Big-Boat College Teams Go Big

This unprecedented big-boat regatta for college sailing teams is a hot incubator of keelboat sailors.
2023 Storm Trysail Club Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta
Wisco Sailing leads down the run in the J/109 division at the Storm Trysail Club’s Intercollegiate Regatta Stephen Cloutier

The offshore sailing team from the US Naval Academy brought two of their training boats and had the biggest success in their respective classes at the Storm Trysail Club’s Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta presented by ShopRite of Carteret. The crew on the J/42 Atalanta, skippered by Midshipman Renee Bonner, dominated the Medium PHRF Class with all bullets, and the other crew on the J/44 Maxine, skippered Midshipman Javier Jimenez Kane, finished in second in PHRF Large one point behind another experienced offshore team, Kings Point‘s. KP Midshipman Justin Nixon led Comet for the win in their J/44.

The Wisconsin Badgers repeated their 2022 win in the J/109 class and also took home the Puff Trophy in honor of former Commodore Howard McMichael, for the runner-up in the overall scoring of the regatta.

King's Point
King’s Point looking to pass at the Storm Trysail Club’s Intercollegiate Regatta. Stephen Cloutier

Honoring the most successful team in points overall, The Paul Hoffman Trophy went to the US Naval Academy – but trophies are not what motivates many of these sailors, it is the chance to meet other sailors at an event like this. As Bonner puts it: “This is one of my favorite regattas of the fall season because it allows so many colleges to interact with one another while competing at a high level and challenging us all to adapt to different types of boats in new venues.”

Nicole Giuliani, a senior on the Wisconsin Sailing Team said they look forward to this regatta every year “because love meeting offshore sailors from all over and having a great time on the water. The competition is always great and we always leave having learned something new.”

In the J/105 class, five teams duked it out around the racecourse with Princeton finishing on top of the podium. When asked what they attributed their win to, skipper Jasper Waldman said: “Two-thirds of the team had never raced a sailboat before arriving at Princeton but we’ve been able to foster a strong team culture centered around communication. This served us tremendously this past weekend, keeping morale high in the rain, bouncing back from breakages, and allowing me to focus on driving the boat fast.”

College of Charleston sailing
College of Charleston sailing goes into the bearaway at the Storm Trysail Club’s Intercollegiate Regatta. Stephen Cloutier

The goal of the Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta is to give a unique keelboat experience to college sailors from around the world. From dinghy sailors – who may have never stepped on anything but a 420 – to experienced offshore teams with their own boats, the IOR is a rare opportunity to compete in a big boat event with 32 other schools on the water simultaneously. Co-hosted by Storm Trysail Club and Larchmont Yacht Club, volunteers offer up their time and boats to inspire and motivate these sailors to seek out more racing opportunities outside of college. This event is free of charge to all participants.

This year’s edition treated the sailors to challenging big-breeze conditions. Saturday started very wet with no wind, forcing the new PRO and recently retired Tufts sailing coach, Ken Legler to issue a postponement. Eventually, the rain subsided, allowing the Race Committee to get off one race for all the classes before a squall forced all teams to get ashore in the afternoon.

“The view from the bridge of the Satan’s Toe (LYC’s RC boat) allowed me to see how the wild conditions challenged every team. It was exciting to watch to say the least!” said Legler.

Time to run the sheet at the Storm Trysail Club’s Intercollegiate Regatta. Stephen Cloutier

After a party under the protection of a tent at Larchmont Yacht Club, the rain eventually passed, leaving a cool, crisp, and sunny Sunday with a 15-20 knot westerly, permitting the 36 boats were divided into 6 classes to get in three more races.

“Many of the sailors tell me that this is the event they look most forward to all season and how they sincerely appreciate the owners who share their boats with us,” said co-chair Ann Myer.  Most boats are donated, with service academies sending multiple teams to compete in their own boats. Kings Point donated two boats this year to allow more schools to attend.

King's Point team
The King’s Point enjoys a quick lap on their loaner IC37. Stephen Cloutier

The IOR attracts teams not just from the US but all over the world. Polytechnique from France returned after a few years away, Dalhousie from Nova Scotia was a new team to the IOR, and Queen’s University from Montreal also returned. Queen’s even won their class in a J/100.

The smiles on land, despite the challenging conditions, were a testament to the excitement the sport affords those lucky enough to take part. Jim Holland, the other co-chair commented, “I am always reminded with the arrival of these collegiate teams of their intensity and desire to learn and succeed on the water. I look forward to seeing them on starting lines in the future for years to come.”

One of many tight crosses at the Storm Trysail Club’s Intercollegiate Regatta. Stephen Cloutier

The Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta is further supported by ShopRite of Carteret, ​​Harken Derm, Carlsberg, Helly Hansen, McMichael Yachts Yards and Brokers, UK Sailmakers Northeast, Dimension-Polyant, Gifted of Larchmont, and J Boats.

Additional Photos from Event Photographer Stephen Cloutier.