The Best Kept Secret in College Sailing

The Peter Wenner Rainbow Invitational in Hawaii is an awesome kickoff to the college season for teams in the know.

University of Hawaii Sailing Rainbow Invitational
UH Peter Wenner Rainbow InvitationalCourtesy of the University of Hawaii Sailing Team

When Salve Regina sailing coach John Ingalls calls a regatta, “the most fun anyone could have at a college sailing event,” it’s time to pay attention. In early January, the University of Hawaii sailors, leis and all, welcomed sailors from across the globe (literally) for the Peter Wenner Rainbow Invitational.

Sailors from Salve, USC, Brown, Hosei University (Tokyo, Japan), University of British Columbia, and a handful of other schools kicked off the spring season with a weekend of racing in the Ke'ehi Lagoon in Honolulu.

“We all enjoyed the international competition and a break from our Canadian winter,” says Sandra Macko, a sailor at the University of British Columbia. “Overall we had a great time; thank you to the University of Hawaii for hosting this regatta and having UBC come back to compete for the second year in a row.”

“Sailing in Hawaii during January is tough to beat when most of the country is frozen,” says Ingalls. “Water temperatures in Hawaii are consistently a warm 80 degrees, and the air temps range from 78-88. So it's shorts, T-shirts, and sunscreen for the duration. No need to bring that bulky sailing gear. It never rained on us this year, but when it has in the past, the liquid sunshine is warm. So for all those reasons, the trek from the east coast is worth it.”

So what about the sailing? “The conditions were perfect as well as varied,” says Ingalls. “This year was our fourth trip in six years; we saw mostly 10 knots with a peaks around 14. When the Trades blow, it's quite the ride.”

University of Hawaii Sailing Rainbow Invitational
Sailors from Salve Regina, USC, UC-San Diego, Brown, UC Santa Barbara, Hosei University, Long Beach State, Washington U., Cal Poly, U. British Columbia and CSU Channel Islands attended this years' Peter Wenner Invitational.Courtesy of the University of Hawaii Sailing Team

The regatta is named for Peter Wenner Jr., a former University of Hawaii sailor who died tragically in a sailing accident off Waikiki in 2008. His father, Peter Wenner, and mother, Susie, hosted all of the sailors for a BBQ dinner on Saturday after sailing. “That barbeque, and the camaraderie and friendships generated are difficult for me to describe,” says Ingalls, “but it gives me and my team a sense of family within our sailing community. We leave with a sense of belonging to something special.”

For more information on the Peter Wenner Rainbow Invitational and the University of Hawaii sailing team, visit