Collegiate Lead Mining

Big-boats are not common in college sailing, but there are keel-boat programs at these 10 schools

June 9, 2005

College Guide 2005 Sider

Stuart Streuli

Of the nearly 200 schools in the InterCollegiate Sailing Association, fewer than a dozen have active big-boat programs. However, for anyone hoping to find a way into the world of keelboat sailing, four years sailing on, and maintaining, a top big boat is a unique opportunity virtually impossible to find outside of these programs. At dinghy-focused schools, regattas like the Storm Trysail event, along with the McMillian and Kennedy Cups at the Naval Academy and a variety of sloop events can provide an occasional foray into the world of lead, spinnakers, and winches. California Maritime Location: Vallejo, Calif. Offshore coach: Charlie Arms Sailing site: Northern San Francisco and San Pablo Bays Primary big boats: None, team charters for regattas, sailed 2004 Big Boat Series on a 1D35 Profile: Though the school owns nothing bigger than its three J/22s, the offshore team has been growing and even handed out separate varsity letters this spring. Team races in local PHRF events out of Vallejo YC and travels east for regattas at the Naval Academy. U.S. Coast Guard Academy Location: New London, Conn. Offshore coach: Doug Clark Sailing site: Thames River, Fishers Island Sound Primary big boats: Farr 40, J/44, Nelson/Marek 43, two Mumm 30s Profile: Instead of a five-week tour on the CGA’s square rigger Eagle, sailors can sign up for the summer offshore racing program. This year it started with the Edlu Race in mid-May and concluded with Block Island Race Week. Coast Guard stations in Key West and Miami enabled the team to take the Mumms on the road last winter, something Coach Doug Clark hopes to repeat. Maine Maritime Location: Castine, Maine Offshore coach: Butch Minson Sailing site: Penobscot Bay Primary big boats: J/41, Taylor 41 Profile: The offshore program is an adjunct of the dinghy team, which allows sailors to be a part of both squads. They do the full slate of collegiate big boat events and also a summer tour. This summer’s tour on the Taylor 41 will visit no less than a dozen regattas during July and August including Marblehead Halifax and the PHRF New England Championships. Students do everything from preparing the bottom to planning the deliveries and navigating during distance races. Massachusetts Maritime Location: Buzzards Bay, Mass. Offshore coach: Chuck Fontaine Sailing site: Buzzards Bay Primary big boats: ILC 40, 1D 35, Carroll Marine 1200, Tartan Tangent, Taylor 40, G&S 30 Profile: Though MMA has no required summer program, the school keeps its boats in Beverly and New Bedford and sailing team members participate in local PHRF races. Fontaine was hoping to enter the Marion Bermuda Race this month and he plans on using the G&S 30 as a women-only boat this summer to encourage female participation in big-boat sailing. U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Location: Kings Point, N.Y. Offshore coach: Ralf Steitz Sailing site: Western Long Island Sound Primary big boats: Two Farr 40s, 30-foot MORC, J/29, 80-foot Frers maxi Profile: Fortunately for Kings Point, the donation of Boomerang by George Coumantaros also came with enough cash and spare parts they can actually race the boat, now called Hercules. Steitz, an America’s Cup veteran, will use the maxi for a full slate of Northeast distance races this summer. In April, USMMA won the Kennedy Cup, the unofficial collegiate big boat championship, for the first time in three decades. U.S. Naval Academy Location: Annapolis, Md. Offshore coach: Lt. Rob Almeida Primary big boats: Navy 44s, J/105, Farr 49, Nelson/Marek 50, Taylor 49, Custom Hood 60 Profile: With a crew of 75 and an armada of boats, the Naval Academy could do fine hosting regattas exclusively for its offshore team. Fortunately, its generous with its fleet, especially the Navy 44s, which are used for Kennedy Cup and other regattas. This June, the offshore team will man six boats for races like Annapolis Newport, Marion Bermuda, and Block Island Race Week. The post-college time commitment may be daunting, but for an avid big-boat sailor, it’s like being a kid in the candy store. New York Maritime Location: Fort Schuyler, Bronx, N.Y. Offshore coach: Steve Moore Primary big boats: J/105, J/35 Profile: While their counterparts from Coast Guard or Kings Point struggle to keep pace in the Farr 40 or Mumm 30 classes, the New York Maritime team enjoys a modicum of success in the lower-octane J/105 fleet. After the first weekend of the American YC Spring Series in late April, they were fourth out of 19. This past winter the offshore team completely restored the school’s J/35. Given sufficient student interest, the school is considering entering the Around Long Island Race this summer. University of Rhode Island Location: Kingston, R.I. Offshore coach: Scott Norris Primary big boats: none Profile: Though the URI squad is first and foremost a dinghy program, it merits being on this list because it consistently enters the MacMillian and Kennedy Cups at the Naval Academy and often does well. In 2004, URI won the Kennedy Cup for the eighth time in recent memory and earned an invite to the Collegiate Keelboat Worlds in France. URI is the only U.S. school to ever win the regatta. With the close proximity to Newport, R.I., opportunities abound for motivated keelboat sailors. St. Mary’s College Location: St. Mary’s City, Md. Offshore coach: Student-run Sailing site: St. Mary’s River Primary big boats: J/35, Tripp 38 Profile: The offshore team is just 10 to 12 people, self-governing, and does a casual schedule consisting primarily of collegiate big-boat regattas. In many respects, it’s the antithesis of the school’s high-powered dinghy squad. But they are a close-knit crew, and making the offshore team can be a challenge with just a few open slots each year. “They have a great time,” says waterfront director Mike Ironmonger. “It’s like dinghy sailing was 25 or 30 years ago.” Texas A&M-Galveston Location: Galveston, Texas Offshore coach: Jim Atchley Primary big boats: Whitby 42 ketch, New York 36, two Cape Fear 38s. Profile: This seven-year-old offshore program will make a jump forward this fall as it takes delivery of two new Cape Fear 38s. Atchley has a squad of about 30, a third of which cross over with TAMUG’s dinghy team. They compete in buoy races on Galveston Bay and a slew of distance events including the Texas Ocean Racing Circuit, the Harvest Moon Regatta, and the Regatta de Amigos from Galveston to Veracruz, Mexico. Atchley teaches a one-credit class in competitive offshore sailing. “It’s always full,” he says.


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