The Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) is the governing authority for sailing competition at colleges and universities throughout the United States and in some parts of Canada. There are seven Conferences that schedule and administer regattas within their established geographic regions:
The routine operations of each Conference fall under the supervision of its Conference Commissioner and its Executive Committee, which is comprised of both undergraduates and graduate advisers or coaches. Each Conference conducts local and Interconference regattas and holds Conference Championships to qualify teams for the ICSA National Championships.
The ICSA Interconference Regatta Schedule Coordinator manages the setting of dates and formats for an extensive schedule of Interconference regattas, which include participation by clubs and teams from two or more Conferences.
College sailing began on an informal, club basis in the 1890′s, and organized racing started in 1928. It has grown to include more than 230 active colleges, and racing now occurs on every weekend during fall and spring seasons and on many weekends during the winter. It is a truly coeducational sport, and it has proved itself the best incubator for the development of racing skills. Former college sailors have always numbered significantly among Olympic medalists and America’s Cup competitors.
Many colleges that race also offer excellent and extensive recreational and instructional programs to members of their communities and, in a number of cases, to the general public. Education and training have been the corner stones of the ICSA since its inception. The introduction of novices to the sport of sailing and the providing of opportunities for the recreational sailor has often prompted colleges and universities to offer more extensive and significant support to programs than would have been the case without these services. MIT, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, College of Charleston, and the University of California at Irvine are particularly notable, for at each of these institutions many hundreds of students, faculty and staff participate. The vast majority of college sailing is done in double and single handed dinghies, but some programs do have intermediate sloops, offshore and cruising boats, or sailboards to offer their members. Racing in the ICSA follows this same pattern.
The ICSA is a volunteer organization and has benefited greatly from the unselfish assistance of many individuals over the decades. Many US Sailing Judges have been generous in giving time to serve as officials at the district and national levels. Former college sailors play a large part in advising, guiding, and coaching current undergraduates and have been significant in numerous efforts to establish and upgrade college fleets. The offer of any assistance is always welcome.
For further information regarding the ICSA or college sailing, contact the President, Secretary or the appropriate Conference Commissioner.
Old Dominion University
Athletic Administration Building
Norfolk, VA 23529
Danielle M. Richards
2812 Canon Street
San Diego, CA 92106
The National Championships
National Championships are held in six categories. Women’s Single-handed (new in 1994), Men’s Single-Handed, and Match Racing Championships (previously Sloop) are conducted in the fall, while Women’s Dinghy, Coed Dinghy, and Team Racing take place in the spring. The college team that compiles the best overall record in the six categories is awarded the Leonard M. Fowle Trophy, which honors the “Father of College Sailing”, who guided the development and expansion of college sailing from 1930 until 1976.
Teams must qualify for the Nationals through Conference Championships. All events are scored low-point with no throw-out races. Racing is done on short courses. Boats are usually rotated each race so that each team sails each boat in the fleet once. Most events are two-division A and B with the scores of each division added for a final team score.
The ICSA National Championships rotate amongst the seven different Conferences each year.
College Sailors’ Comments
What is the greatest benefit of college sailing?
“The tactical situations you are placed in over and over again. Doing hundreds of races a year. Experience you can’t get in any other type of sailing.” – Anna Tunnicliffe (ODU ’05)
“The friendships and connections. I continually stay in touch with all my friends from college sailing and continue to run into them around the country.” – Mikee Anderson Mitterling (USC ’06)
“Discipline, goal seeking, and many good friends and memories.” – Donna Kuhl (ODU ’91)
“I’ve learned how to pull through problems with someone else (my skipper).” – Faith Bushnaq (Yale ’90)
It has made me grow up on the race course.” – Terry Hutchinson (ODU ’90)
“Pure sailing does not get any better than this. No entry fees, no trailering, equal equipment, great races, and the best sailors in the world. What else could you ask for? Best training I’ve ever had!” – Mike Zani (Brown’92)
College sailing is so fulfilling because we get to see new parts of the country, meet tons of people, see other campuses, and sail. I’ve learned a lot. One things for sure: ‘Winning isn’t everything.’ As long as we try and don’t do anything we regret. I really couldn’t see going through college any other way, and after college there’s no way to stop. But the friends you make is the best part.” – Amy Whelan (Michigan State ’92)