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.
By Andrew Sayre, Villanova University '12
To say that this regatta “came together” for the Villanova Sailing team would be a huge understatement. When we found out about this regatta and registered back in January, we had big plans. We started mentally putting our team together, figuring out our key players, and how many people we thought we could pull together. Fall rolled around, and it turned out that this regatta was the first weekend of Villanova’s October break—kids actually want to go home…weird. We pulled together a team of six guys, and secured ourselves a J/105.
Having never sailed this event before and having no previous relationship with any of the registered boat owners, we were coming in blind. Oh, and did I mention that only one of our sailors had ever stepped foot on a J/105? Our crew consisted of myself on the wheel, having barely any experience driving big boats, aside from having the helm of an 86-foot yawl on the Transatlantic Race this summer, our J/105 “guru” trimming main, two dinghy sailors doing jib and pit, a Melges 24 sailor on mast and trimming kite, and a rock solid bowman up front. Needless to say, we were a motley crew. Due to tests, quizzes, classes, and traffic, we were not able to make it up to Larchmont in time to practice on Friday afternoon, so we were really coming into this event cold.
Luckily for us when we registered we were greeted with the pleasant surprise of learning that we were being provided with a coach to help us learn the boat handling and tuning aspects of a J/105! It was just what we needed. We also met up with a friend of one of our sailors who fed us a tidal wave of information about everything we ever wanted to know about racing J/105s. The information was awesome, but the overload led to at least half of it going in one ear and out the other. We enjoyed a lovely dinner of chili and hotdogs, and then headed off to my aunt and uncle’s house where we were graciously being put up for the weekend.
Bear in mind for the next part of this story that we are a bunch of college sailors who are used to spending our weekends overpacked into small hotel rooms eating takeout food. My aunt went overboard when it came to taking care of us. We showed up Friday night to at least 100 piping hot chicken wings, jumbo shrimp, chips, cookies, sodas, sandwiches and snacks for the next day, and cases of water and Gatorade. We were all given beds or air mattresses to sleep on, and in the morning we woke up to more hot coffee, muffins, bagels and fresh fruit than we could wrap our eyes (or our mouths) around. Good thing it was going to be windy…oh wait, just kidding.
We got on our boat Saturday morning only to find that we had no tension gauge and had no idea where our shrouds were set at. All we knew was that our mast was a noodle (or more of a banana) and everything was WAY too tight. We went about our business of evening the mast out and dumping the tension, and got things as well set as we could figure. As I previously mentioned only our main trimmer had ever sailed a J/105 before, so we headed out of the harbor as early as we could and got some practice in. By “some” practice I mean we got numbers on both tacks and did one set, gybe and douse…if you can do one you can do them all right?
Fast forward to halfway through the second race, which has left us full of “learning experiences” that generally involved good starts and slowly losing boats around the course. I believe it was during our second race that our radio started making funny noises right in the middle of a gybe so the main trimmer whacked it, hit some button, and shut it up. It was a temporary solution, and we were racing, so we were all fine with it. WELL, after that race we forgot to check our radio for important things, like still being on the right channel. The race committee was moving marks, so we sent our weasel of a bowman up the mast. He wanted to mount one of his GoPro cameras on the spreader, and he was up there snapping some pictures and getting his camera set up. All of a sudden, we realized that, with our radio off, we had missed the start of our sequence and were away from the line in no wind with our bowman up the mast and our headsail furled. We started roughly 1-2 minutes late, and somehow we weren’t the last ones off the line.
After a day of light air sailing and way to much pinching on my part, a serious no-no in a J/105—especially in light air, we came off the water Saturday with our spirits high and a lot of things to fix for Sunday’s finale. Sunday morning we located a tension gauge (begged to borrow one from our “coach’s” husband, who was amongst our competition), and got our rig properly set. We were just a little off the day before…During dinner Saturday night, we made some crew adjustments to better utilize everyone’s skills and had a rock solid game plan coming into Sunday’s racing.
Unfortunately for us there were no races on Sunday. We got in one start and three-quarters of an upwind leg, on which we were in fourth—I would like to point out! Moral of the story is we now have all our problems solved and are ready to go for next year! Who knows maybe this time we’ll even practice a bit? Overall, the IOR is hands-down the most fun event in college sailing and something every college sailor should try to participate in.