Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pictures from IOR

Here are some great shots of the team during the Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta last weekend! Head over to our Facebook page for more pictures.

Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta

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

Match Race National Qualifier

This past weekend, the team competed in the regional qualifier for Collegiate Match Racing Nationals in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  Almost all of college match racing is in Sonars, requiring 4 sailors including at least one female crew aboard.  Our team consisted of Ryan Seago as skipper, Alex Ramos as tactician, Kirsten Boelkins in the pit, and Chris Cyr on bow.  Additionally, we brought teammate Jason Doyle to watch us from the coach boat. Sail Sheboygan, the regatta host, arranged housing for all teams.  The fab five arrived to their hosts Tom and Claudia Phillips's home late on Friday, and spent the night learning how to play pool with Tom.

On Saturday, after breakfast with the Phillips family, the team arrived to Sail Sheboygan at 8 AM for weigh-in and registration.  Without any hesitation, all teams we're sent out on the water for a 10 AM warning signal.  It was perfect Sonar conditions, with flat water and 15+ knots of breeze.  The team started out cold with a loss to Wisconsin in the first match.It would take the entire day to build team chemistry, as this was the first time the team had sailed a match racing event together. Nevertheless, Michigan sailed the rest of day without losing another race, completing a double round robin.  Due to the great conditions, racing was done by 3, and Michigan headed ashore looking forward to finals on Sunday against Wisconsin! The rest of the day was spent playing pool, eating pizza with other teams, and more pool.

Sunday brought on almost identical conditions with a little more chop.  After winning this event in 2013 and moving on to nationals, tensions were high as Michigan approached a best-of-five series against Wisconsin. Each race was very close, both teams would have their moments of control during the pre-start, and the lead was constantly changing at each mark rounding. After three races, Michigan was down one win to Wisconsin's two. Despite being on the chopping block, Michigan started race 4 with a sizable lead and continued to extend up the beat.  At the top mark, Michigan was ahead by 10 boat lengths, and it seemed that a win was certain.  The best and the worst part about match racing is that anything can happen.  Rounding the top mark, Michigan's spinnaker went up in a knot, and was unusable as the bowman spent the next two legs re-rigging it.  During this time, Wisconsin had gained the lead and extended to a 10 boat length advantage.  To put a cherry on top, Michigan's jib exploded as they came to the top mark for the second time.  Wisconsin had taken their third win and secured their spot at nationals.

Despite the sour ending, Michigan had a great weekend enjoying the amazing conditions on and off the water.  Special thanks to our hosts Tom and Claudia!

--Chris Cyr, '16