Conversations with Classic Boats

Published on February 23rd, 2024

Conversations with Classic Boats is a podcast about classic boat designs and the stories behind them. Hosted by Tom Darling, the 29th episode traces how college sailing goes offshore.

Among the hundreds of college sailing teams, there is a movement afoot for collegiate sailors to team with willing and generous big boat owners and train crews to race in the increasing number of offshore college events.

In October 2023, a 6-person team from Princeton – half male, half female – made a successful run in the Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta sponsored at Larchmont Yacht Club by the Storm Trysail Club. The STC has taken the lead in sponsoring the event which started its life in the 1970s as an informal race supervised by a cruising society called the Corinthians. In 2023, 36 student teams competed in multiple classes with two wild days of fall Long Island Sound weather.

We hear from boat owners and competitors as they describe their role in the collegiate move to big boat competition. Jasper Waldman, the Princeton skipper, reinforced the novelty of sailing on big boats: “two thirds of our team has never raced a sailboat before arriving at Princeton.”

This and other events like the South Carolina Offshore Regatta in Charleston follow a rich history of collegiate offshore that stretches back a century. The founding sailors of the college game like Arthur Knapp (Princeton) and Brooks Cunningham (Yale) dueled in meter boats, Sixes and Eights.

The McMillan Cup, the granddaddy of the sport and perhaps the first intercollegiate sailing event, has been held since 1950 out of Annapolis under the auspices of the U.S. Naval Academy. Many senior sailors today who were college racers then have fond memories of the McMillan Cup and its fleet of seemingly indestructible vessels.

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