Third time’s a charm for Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta
Published on October 10th, 2022
After the 2020 Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta was canceled due to COVID, hopes were high for 2021, but were dashed when the racing was called off due to strong wind and waves. Fortunately, 2022’s rendition was greeted with ideal conditions, allowing the race committee to get off 7 windward-leeward races on October 8-9 in Larchmont, NY.
Over 260 college sailors came from across the USA to compete in one of the world’s largest intercollegiate big-boat regattas on yachts ranging from 29 to 40 feet. Co-hosted by Storm Trysail Club and Larchmont Yacht Club, 28 colleges were represented amongst 34 entries divided into five divisions – with five schools fielding multiple teams.
Amid sunny skies and 10-15 knot northwest winds, the Wisconsin Badgers, fresh off their victory in the 2022 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta (GLIOR), came out on top with straight bullets, taking home the Paul Hoffmann Trophy for Best Overall Performance onboard the J/109, TBD.
The team generally has little big boat experience, mostly sailing dinghies in their home lake, but used the Friday practice session to tune themselves up. Team Captain Nicole Giuliana, a junior, thanked Safety Officer and STC Member Ed “Buttons” Padin for the guidance. Safety Officers are not allowed to coach during the regatta.
“We had an amazing practice session with him,” remarked Co-captain Jack Schweda. “We practiced a lot of gybes, 30 or 35, as we knew the corners were going to be critical. We tried different sets and douses too.”
Nicole added, “We learned we had to stay in our box, focus on our own roles, and dial in the communication front to back. This is such a great event for building confidence, networking with other sailors, and making lots of great sailing connections. We really want to thank boat owner Julie O’Dowd for providing her boat and really prepping it for us.”
The goal of the event is to expose college sailors to keelboat racing – a rare opportunity for most team who only sail dinghies like 420s and FJs.
The College of Charleston Cougars have a well-developed co-ed inshore and offshore racing team, but decided to field their first all-women’s offshore team, and this was also the first time the IOR has ever hosted an all-female team.
“Because there weren’t any boys aboard, they called the boat the “no fly zone!” noted Safety Officer Ann Myer on the J/122e Reviver. “The girls really rocked it!”
Captain Caroline Williams explained, “We sail three times a week on a Melges 30 and J/36, and we’ve done the Navy 44 events and the Catalina 37 Harbor Cup in LA, but this was our first time competing together as this group.”
Madelyn Ploch, helmsperson for the winning Naval Academy entry on the J/122 Blue Yonder, was aboard the 2016 Young American Newport Bermuda winner High Noon. “I’ve seen some good and bad leadership from boats I’ve sailed on, but communications is really the difference maker,” said Ploch.
Coleman Peppered, Captain of the USCGA crew that won the J/105 Class onboard Gray Matter, felt how trusting each other, communication, and endurance were the keys.
“We kept reminding ourselves to stay calm, drink water and pass around the Sour Patch Kids!” shared Peppered. “We worked on defining everyone’s roles, communicating early, and having solid trust in each other, and that enabled us to overcome mistakes. As officers when we graduate, this racing experience translates really well to being on the ocean, under pressure, fighting exhaustion in high intensity situations…it’s very relevant.”
“This regatta is about providing a unique opportunity for these young sailors and seeing all their smiles made all the effort worth it,” said Jim Holland, co-chair from Larchmont Yacht Club. “We want this to be a life long sport and are very happy to give them the opportunity to start this process. I hope to see them on the starting line of many more events in the future.”