Fourteen University of Michigan Sailors traveled to Larchmont, NY for the 2014 Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta hosted by the Storm Trysail Foundation. This event matches 52 collegiate teams from around the country with boat owners from metro NYC. This year the team was placed in the J44 one design fleet in order to prepare for Kennedy Cup, the upcoming Collegiate Keelboat National Championship. Since we were competing against the US Coast Guard Academy, the US Merchant Marine Academy, Mass Maritime, and SUNY Maritime, we decided on a name change for the weekend, briefly switching over to Michigan Maritime in order to fit in.
The brain trust in the back of the boat featured Alex Ramos (’15) on the helm and Tom Etheridge (’16) trimming main and calling flawless tactics. The string pullers sharing the cockpit with the afterguard were Chris Cyr (’16) at primary trim, Connor Shope (’15) at secondary trim, and Max Odena (’16) and Braden Engstrom (’16) as grinders. On the pointy end of the boat, Jason Doyle (’15) was on bow, Stu Starkweather (’15) at mast, and Kirsten Boelkins (’15) in the pit. Liz Wallace (’15) and Ryan Davidson (’15) took turns as floats and Kendall Witmer (’15) and Abby Rogers (’16) served as alternates.
Saturday morning proved to be fairly miserable as it was cold and raining for most of the morning. None the less, the team took to Long Island Sound and began preparing for the first race. We were a little rusty in our first race, having troubles both up and downwind and ended up taking a fourth in the first race. As the wind built we switched over to our #3 jib and proceeded to decimate the competition upwind ultimately taking a first. The next two races, the team was a little more aggressive at the starts and were called back both times but fought valiantly into third place each time. So after racing, we retired to the Davidson’s house, discussed our strategy for overcoming the 6 point deficit to the Merchant Marine Academy (MMA), and watched the U of M football team get a much needed win.
Sunday morning was a bit chilly but could otherwise could not have been better; sunny and wind around 15 knots. We nailed the first start and proceeded to attempt to pinch off the MMA, eventually forcing them to tack out and foul Mass. Maritime. We showed great improvement over the previous day of racing and soundly beat the rest of the fleet with nearly perfect performances on all aspects of the course. The next race we had another brilliant start and finished over a minute ahead of the next boat. At this point the wind shut down and the regatta was called with U of M ending up in first overall by three points.
A huge thank you to the Davidson family for housing us, Phil Gutin for donating his boat, Beagle, to the team, and Ryan Malloy and Cliff Crowley for serving as owners reps and making sure we didn’t do anything to stupid.
--Tom Etheridge, '16