New kids in town

It’s official. Strictly Sail Chicago has adopted a new child and things are going well. The Midwest College Sailing Association held its Annual Midwinters Conference above the action at Navy Pier and the conjunction of the two events was more of a success than either party planned for. On Friday 150 college sailors from around the region poured into the Chicago area and schmoozed with Sailing Anarchy, Harken and MCSA folks at the Windward Mark Bar on Friday night. Throughout the day Saturday, these sailors intermixed theirs meetings and seminars with strolls around the floor at Strictly Sail. Some picked up free catalogues. Some bought Valentine’s Day gifts for their sailor significant others. Some worked booths to raise support for their college team.

The Wisconsin Sailing Team brought in 25 sailors alone and they split their time between working the Wisco booth, attending meetings, walking the grounds and volunteering to help run the show. Captain Kristin Paul was at the show for her fourth year of volunteering, thrilled to be able to combine a day at Strictly Sail with fundraising for her team.

The way Kevin Murphy sees it, “It’s a win-win situation. These kids get to come into the city, have a great weekend, check out some exciting new gear and be with their sailing buddies. We get their attendance and they receive donations to their programs.”

The presence of college sailing was loudest during the mid-day Grind-off hosted by Harken. Each team was allowed to enter one women’s singles, one men’s singles and one doubles team in a race to grind 20 rotations the fastest. The event was judged by Cate Muller and Eric Stuck, both formally MCSA sailors who now work as Harken representatives in a picture-perfect example of how college sailing can live on long after college years. They both had a blast looking over the heated competition. In the end, the results were as follows:

Females Singles Record: 7.18 seconds, Western Michigan

Male Singles Record: 6.23 seconds, University of Wisconsin

Doubles Record: 5.62 seconds, Purdue University (but that’s a sensitive topic. Wisconsin’s doubles record came in at a close second with 5.66 seconds.)

Both MCSA and SSCHI organizers were pleasantly surprised at what a difference it made to have a young, enthused presence infused into the show. They both expressed an interest in continuing the tradition in the future.

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