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Conversations within the sport of sailing - Mitch Brindley

It is often said how sailing is unique as a sport, where the opportunity is readiliy available to compete against the very best in the sport. Occassionally we get the chance to chat with them too.

Mitch Brindley
(March 23, 2009) In January, the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association of North America (ICSA) held their Winter Meeting in Park City, UT. Here is an update from ICSA President Mitch Brindley:

  • Was a policy decision made regarding the three length zone at marks?

  • ICSA has adopted the 3 length Zone (in a close vote).

  • Explain the new format for the women's nationals?

  • We have adopted a new 27 team format for the women's national championship beginning this spring (expanded from 18 teams in previous years). Eighteen teams will compete in a one day semifinal regatta while the top nine teams receive a first round bye. From the semifinal round, nine teams progress to the finals raced on the following two days. The nine teams eliminated may participate in a clinic type program held during the championship round.

    We chose to add a semifinal format to our women's because that was the only event for which we had not expanded the field. About eight years ago we expanded the field at the team race national championship from 10 to 14 teams; then with the support of Vanguard/LaserPerformance, ICSA added two berths each to the men's and women's singlehanded national championship. Last year we expanded the field with a national championship semifinals for the coed dinghy championship. All of these expansion initiatives were designed to meet the challenges of growing competitive depth in college sailing. It is the desire of the ICSA that our national championships reflect competition at the highest levels while and maintaining nationwide access to berths.

  • There was a proposal for the sloop national championship be removed in status as an ICSA national championship and from the Fowle Trophy calculations (based on the best overall performance among the six national championships: men's singlehandeds, women's singlehandeds, sloops, women's dinghies, team race, and coed dinghies.)

  • Sloops will remain a national championship with Fowle points. An ad hoc committee was appointed to be chaired by John Vandemoer to make recommendations on the improvement of the championship, including the possibility of adding a match race component.

  • Did last year’s qualification changes for the coed dinghy nationals achieve its goal?

  • ICSA feels the semifinal format initiated last year, was a success, particularly in terms of the competitiveness of the Championship finals. Furthermore the two additional semifinal regattas were both highly competitive, creating a great deal of excitement and competitive racing. This new system has a sense of competitive fairness, where all teams have equivalent opportunities to sail their way into the finals. The one area of weakness that was identified in the new format was that some sailors and coaches said that the two semifinals "did not feel" like nationals. So this year we are taking steps to correct change that perception. It should be an easy step with both the ICSA Eastern and Western National Championship Semifinals being run concurrently in Boston Harbor on May 2-3, 2009 in two fleets of FJs - right in front of Puma City during the Volvo Boston stopover.

  • Is the ICSA looking at a new boat design?

  • As for the new college dinghy, the need for a better boat has not gone away, and design characteristics are still being looked into. I think there have been such improvements in boat building technology and design systems that could be incorporated in to a new design of a boat or rig. The economic environment might slow the process but should not stop it. Our initial goal is to create some design parameters first. Mike O'Conner at Harvard is the chair of the committee and is looking into this.

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