Bridging the Gap- Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta

The Storm Trysail Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta seeks to help college sailors transition out of dinghys and into big boats.

More than 430 college sailors raced on Long Island Sound over Columbus Day Weekend (Oct. 11-12) in the Storm Trysail Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta (IOR). Sailed out of the Larchmont Yacht Club in Larchmont, NY, the students raced on 52 keelboats, donated for the weekend by their generous owners. The team from the University of Toledo sailing the Express 37 Troubadour was the overall winner of the regatta, after winning three races and finishing second in two races in the 10-boat PHRF class.

As a result of being the overall winner of the IOR, the team from the University of Toledo has won an expenses-paid trip to the 47th EDHEC Sailing Cup in La Rochelle, France in April 2015. The EDHEC Sailing Cup is the world’s biggest college sailing regatta that draws over 1,500 sailors and 180 boats and the joint venture with Storm Trysail is designed to bring the top college sailors in the world together. All college teams are welcome to compete.

Photos courtesy of Howie McMichael and The Storm Trysail Foundation

The fleet was divided up into five classes: 12 IRC 32’-43’ boats, five J/44s, 13 J/109s, 10 PHRF boats and 12 J/105s. The University of Michigan won the J/44 class aboard US4412, Beagle.
The first day of racing saw cool temperatures, pouring rain at times and a northeasterly 14-knot breeze with some higher gusts. As a result of the wind fighting an ebbing tide, sailors had to deal with a nasty short, steep chop that presented a challenge to many teams. By the end of the weekend, the College of Charleston won in the J/109 class sailing PAX 3 with three firsts, a second and a fourth.
The IOR is extremely popular with both the sailors and boat owners. Bob Schwartz, owner of the J/109 Nordlys, wrote, “The regatta was a great, as well as an important event as usual. The nicest part is that you immediately realize that college age sailors are the most wonderful kids you would ever want to meet. Smart, polite, capable, etc. Our sport attracts the best and we have to keep them involved.”
Overall regatta winners, the University of Toledo. Toledo’s first race started disastrously as the mainsail clew ring blew out just after crossing starting line. Wes Bemus, one of the owner’s representatives/coaches on board the Express 37, Troubadour, quickly called for a reef, removing the load from the lower portion of the damaged sail. Shortly thereafter the reef clew failed, forcing the crew to rig a spare main. With that terrific crew work, the team came out on top in race one, as they would in the next two races beating two other Express 37s, two J/120s, a Farr 30, two C&C 115s, a J/88 and a Tripp 37 in the PHRF class.
The US Naval Academy won the IRC class sailing the J/133 ANTIDOTE. Here, the team from Bucknell, aboard J/122, Wings, prepares to cross the start line on day two of racing, sailed in a dying northerly breeze.
The Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta is organized by the Storm Trysail Foundation and the Larchmont Yacht Club, and was headed by Regatta Chairman Barry Gold. The goal of the IOR is to introduce dinghy sailors to the fun and teamwork of big boat racing, which is a new aspect of the sport to many college competitors.
The team from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, aboard J/109 Storm, took second overall in their class behind the College of Charleston. Rick Lyall, the owner, said, “Over the years I have watched the talent level of the sailors grow. This year the top three J/109 teams were unbelievably well sailed. The College of Charleston team was not only flawless in their boat handling, but also superior in their tactics. It seemed like every time our boat and their boat came together, the Charleston team had the advantage. They definitely deserved to win the biggest class of the regatta.”
Finishing third in the J/109 class was the team from Arts et Métiers in Paris, France. As the winners of the 46th EDHEC Sailing Cup raced last April in Les Sables-d’Olonne France, their team won a trip to compete in the IOR, thanks to the partnership between the Storm Trysail Foundation and the EDHEC Sailing Cup. IOR overall winners the University of Toledo will return the favor and compete in France next April.
J/105 Conundrum, sailed by the team from Roger William’s University, took first in the 12-boat class with two first place finishes, two seconds, and one third.
Sailors from the Maine Maritime Academy wrestle a spinnaker to the deck aboard C&C 115 Spirit of ’76. For many collegiate sailors, the IOR is an introduction to the big boat competition that they hope to transition into after graduation, as well as the opportunity to sail on some rather impressive vessels.