Kings Point and the USMMA Sailing Foundation are gearing up to run the inaugural ICSA Match Race National Championship next
weekend – a regatta that many top sailors throughout the country will be watching to discover some of the most promising
young talent in the U.S. Getting college sailing involved in match racing has been an exciting transition for the sport and
one that will certainly shape sailing during and after college for years to come.
Only a year ago, the ICSA Sloop Nationals were languishing as one of the afterthoughts of the college sailing season.
Hobbled by a lack of support and the inability for many teams to practice in keelboats, the regatta was at the risk of being
removed from the Championship schedule and relegated to a poorly-attended regional regatta. It wasn’t that there was no
interest in sloops sailing in the college community; quite to the contrary, many college sailors competed in keelboat sailing
throughout the summer at a very high level. Young sailors love the challenge of sailing keelboats and the teamwork of
working with a crew of 4; they just wanted a level of competition that was more demanding than the average Wednesday Night
race at any yacht club.
Many coaches and sailors believe that sloops sailing has an important role in the college game. First, most sailors are
likely to compete in keelboat or big boat sailing after college, so sloops provide a good exposure of these classes to
college sailors. Second, college dinghy sailing is rapidly evolving into a sport for smaller athletes – sloops sailing
provides a discipline where weight can actually be an advantage. Finally, two of the classes in the Olympics are keelboats
and Women’s Match Racing and there is a worldwide MR tour with more than $1M in prize money; keeping college sailors involved
in these events is in the best interest of US Sailing, USSTAG and professional sailing in the US. The question for college
sailing was how could we continue to support sloops sailing and improve the competitiveness and relevance of the event? A
shift from fleet racing to match racing has been a great solution.
When the transition between fleet racing and match racing for sloop nationals began last winter, immediate interest developed
in the college sailing community. Match racing clinics have begun for college-aged sailors throughout the country and
college programs and coaches have jumped on board. Using facilities like the Chicago Match Race Center, Sail Sheboygan or
even St. Francis YC’s fleet of J/22s, events have developed for college sailors that are beginning to draw some of the best
talent in the sport. Excitement is building! New regattas are already on the schedule for 2011 and judging by participation
this fall, it looks like we already have a good start.
Throughout this season, each conference in the ICSA has hosted a qualifier to determine the one or two teams that will
represent them at the National Championship at Kings Point on November 19-21. Whittled down from more than 45 teams
competing in seven conferences, these teams currently represent some of the top sailing talent from around the country:
- Boston College/Taylor Canfield
- Brown University/Mark Towill
- St. Mary’s College of Maryland/Michael Menninger
- Kings Point/Chris Herring
- College of Charleston/Jackson Benvenutti
- Tulane/Patrick Ryan
- Minnesota/Matthew Thompson
- Wisconsin/Phil Morley
- Washington/Glen Stellmacher
- California Maritime Academy/Dillon Lancaster
To support match racing in college sailing, Kings Point and the USMMA Sailing Foundation have provided 10 new Sonars for the
event and assembled a top-tier group of umpires and race officers. The Chicago Match Race Center has supported the regatta
with IT support and will be broadcasting the racing live via feed at the event website.
Please tune in to watch this exciting event and see some of our top young talent and please support match racing in youth and
collegiate sailing in your area!
Kings Point Sailing