On Board at the Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta
On Board at the Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta
As a part of our April issue's 2012 Guide to College Sailing, presented by Sperry Top-Sider, we asked college sailors to share their experiences at the Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta, hosted by the Storm Trysail Foundation and Larchmont YC in October 2011. We received some great entries, the best of which, by USC sailor Brock Kraebel, is featured in the magazine. But we couldn't let all these stories remain hidden, so we've published the other finalists online here.
An unexpected trip east for the Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta delivers a storybook ending to one college sailing career.
By Brock Kraebel, USC '12
We were 40 minutes into the first leg of the first race of the final day when we found out we had won the regatta. That was when the Race Committee for the Storm Trysail Foundation Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta abandoned the race and all subsequent races for the day because the breeze was too light and shifty to set a fair course.
We held off celebrating winning the J/105 division until we had put away the boat. At the dock, Max Hutcheson, our skipper, couldn’t resist taking a celebratory dive into the harbor, though he did have a little help. One by one, we all joined him as our initial silence turned into full jubilation. It was a great end to a weekend where everything seemed to work out just right.
A month earlier, Mike “Sego” Segerblom, the sailing coach for the University of Southern California, had invited me to compete in the IOR, hosted by Larchmont YC on Long Island Sound. I was in the midst of my final semester at USC. After focusing on sailing for the previous four years, I had traded afternoons sailing on Alamitos Bay for long study sessions in USC’s climate-controlled library. But I jumped at the chance to sail in one more event.
The regatta was more than just a welcome distraction. Although I grew up on Long Island, my family is rooted in New York City, having lived there for two centuries. The city that my ancestors helped shape was going to serve as the backdrop to my final collegiate sailing regatta.
After a smooth five-hour flight, the USC Offshore Team landed at New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport ready to go to work. Julian Croxall, owner of the J/105 Jouster, met us on the docks of LYC and took us out to his boat with the intention of getting in some practice. While a few teams bring their own boats—namely the nearby Merchant Marine Academy and the New York Maritine Academy—most of the nearly 50 boats are loaned to the regatta by their owners.
Long Island Sound, however, offered up more tide than wind. So we went over some basic boathandling and then headed to shore. There Julian gave us the grand tour of the yacht club. In the club’s mahogany walled library, we marveled at the lines of historical yacht replicas, such as Reliance, saw photos of the club’s various one-design fleets dating back to the early 20th century, and gazed at our reflections in the club’s perpetual trophies. I felt a connection to the sailors in the photographs and the names etched on the trophies.
Julian then led us into a small room that housed a fleet of remote control boats, which club members race on winter weekends. Then he told us that he owned two of the sizeable RC sailboats.
There were smiles all around the moment Julian’s two RC boats hit the water. We quickly set up a match-race bracket and started racing. Each sailor was given a four-minute warm up period, followed by a one-minute start for a windward-leeward course. There were moments of laughter, some oooh’s and ahhh’s, and some heckling on the dock. Julian and I did our best John Madden impressions as we narrated the intense on-water action. Coach Sego emerged victorious, something he didn’t let anyone forget for the rest of the trip.
Julian and our team bonded quickly, which our results reflected. I think Julian saw how serious we were taking things, and he matched that. When we went to sign-in for the first day of racing, Julian was nowhere to be found. A club member informed us that he had beaten us to the mooring. He had arrived early to scrub the bottom, tune the rig, and go over every detail on the boat. He even had coffee for us. His preparation, as well as our pre-race tune ups, gave us the confidence we needed to win. I don’t know if it made a quantifiable difference in our boatspeed, but the mental edge we gained made us faster and allowed us to live in a tight lane off one start, and ultimately put us at the top of the fleet. After a full day of racing on Saturday and then Sunday’s aborted race, the team came off the water happy, and the owner came off the water ecstatic. What could make this weekend any better?
As I headed to the club to dry off after our dip in the harbor, I stopped dead in my tracks. My parents were standing right in front of me. They hadn’t even hinted about coming to watch the regatta. My father had heart surgery a week earlier, so I wasn’t expecting to see them at all. I couldn’t have been any happier; my parents never made it out to the West Coast to watch me race during my time in college. Although my parents weren’t able to watch me sail in this regatta either, they were able to see our team pick up trophies for finishing first in the J/105 division and third overall.
In junior sailing, I was embarrassed when my dad would take photos of my friends and me during awards ceremonies. But I didn’t mind in the least when my dad broke up the crowd at the awards ceremony, on the front lawn of Larchmont YC, to take my team’s picture. In fact, I loved it. The photo’s been on my Facebook profile ever since.
The author (third from the right) was a four-year member of the University of Southern California sailing team and a winner of the Pacific Coast Collegiate Sailing Conference sloop and dinghy championships. He sails regularly on Long Island Sound on One Ring Circus, a Quest 30.