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Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association

The Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) is a volunteer organization that serves as the governing authority for all sailing competition at colleges and universities throughout the United States and in some parts of Canada.

Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association
Legal statusAssociation
HeadquartersNorfolk, Virginia
United States
Region served
United States and Canada
Mitchell Brindley
WebsiteICSA official website


College sailing has been in continuous existence for over a century and the first college sailing club was founded in 1881 when the Yale Corinthian Yacht Club was established in Branford, Connecticut. Organized intercollegiate racing began in 1928 between just a few schools and has since grown to include 218 member programs (150 regular, 19 provisional, 49 associate), though not all continue to compete actively and consistently.

Fleet racingEdit

Members of the U.S. Naval Academy varsity offshore sailing team practice on the Severn River near the academy campus for the McMillan Cup Intercollegiate Regatta

This section outlines the history of North American inter-collegiate fleet racing; the history of inter-collegiate team racing is covered in Team Racing.

In the US the first college sailing club to be formed was the Yale Corinthian Yacht Club in 1881 - three years before the founding of the Oxford University Yacht Club in the UK in 1884 (followed by Cambridge in 1893 and Harvard in 1894). Sailing also started at other universities such as Brown, but the emphasis was very much on big yacht cruising and many of these (US) collegiate clubs faded during the First World War.[1] Harvard and Yale held a sailing event in 1911,[2][3] but this was a long-distance 'cruise' rather than a fleet or team race, and only one Yale yacht attended the event! What is now the US Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA)[4] was established in 1930 as the ICYRA, although inter-collegiate fleet racing had started in Eight-Metres in 1928 for what is now the McMillan Cup.[5][6] The first inter-collegiate dinghy fleet event, the Boston Dinghy Club Challenge Cup, took place with 34 entrants in 1930 (in parallel with the founding of the ICYA),[7] and there was a dinghy event between Princeton and Dartmouth in 1934, but details of its format are not recorded.[5]

Collegiate dinghy sailing in the US blossomed in 1934-36 with initiatives taken by Princeton with its 'Tiger' dinghies (1934),[5] MIT (the famous Pavilion was founded and built in 1935 at the instigation of Walter C. "Jack" Wood),[8] and Brown (1936).[1] The first ICSA dinghy fleet regatta took place in the spring of 1937 at the MIT Pavilion and was won by MIT,[9] with Brown, Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, Williams, and Yale also competing.[10] In the fall of the same year (1937) no less than 19 colleges took part in another ICSA dinghy regatta at the MIT Pavilion.[11] The coveted Morss Trophy was also first awarded in 1937, being won by MIT[7][12][13] After World War II collegiate sailing spread across the US and parts of Canada, with ICSA membership rapidly growing to modern numbers. Across the border in Canada, inter-collegiate sailing has also grown strong since the late 1990s.[14] The US Naval Academy has a record of trophy winners on its website,[15] though the lists there give an impression of 'possibly too many trophies'! The Arthur Knapp Jr Trophy (for Harvard, Yale, Princeton) was subsumed into the Mosbacher Trophy for the Ivy League Championship and then into the Owen Trophy for the Eastern Old Guard Championship.[7] The Pine Trophy was originally a collegiate Star boat fleet race championship first held in 1942. Sometime in the 1950s it was converted into an all-star four on four team race between the New England and Middle Atlantic Districts, held in Ravens (a 24-foot planing sloop with a crew of four). The trophy later reverted to a fleet race and more recently, as of 2012, has become the New England Match Race Championship trophy.[7]


While many colleges launch fully funded varsity teams, the majority of programs compete as club teams.

Examples of Universities that field varsity teams include:

Examples of Universities that field club teams include:


There are seven district associations or conferences within ICSA that schedule and administer regattas within their established regions:

Each conference is supervised by a Graduate Secretary and an Executive Committee, which comprises both graduate and undergraduate students. Both the Graduate Secretary and the Executive Committee are elected by representatives from each school in the conference. Each conference conducts local and intersectional regattas and holds district championships in both the fall and the spring.


The conference or district championships allow schools to qualify for the Intercollegiate Sailing Association National Championships.

ICSA College Sailing Hall of FameEdit

The ICSA College Sailing Hall of Fame[25] was established in 1969. The Hall of Fame is located in the Robert Crown Sailing Center[26] at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

ICSA Hall of Fame AwardsEdit

There are several awards that are bestowed upon collegiate sailors at the end of every full racing season:


ICSA seeks to promote the sport of sailing throughout North America and encourage participation in the sport among young people. Although both varsity and club teams compete fiercely to qualify for district championships and nationals, the overall goal is to promote sailing and have fun on the water. Thus, most college sailing programs do not require previous sailing experience and encourage widespread participation among students. However, most schools also value students who have high school sailing experience.


As education and training have been two cornerstones of the ICSA since its inception most college sailing programs offer general instruction to the student body, and in some cases the general public. Often college sailing programs serve to introduce many people to the sport of sailing.

Many college sailors have gone on to race in the America's Cup as well as in the Olympics.

Corporate PartnersEdit

Vanguard Sailboats has been an official partner of ICSA for many years and the boatbuilder annually sponsors the ICSA National Championships.


  1. ^ a b [1] Sailing history page of Encyclopaedia Brunoniana website
  2. ^ [2] Harvard Crimson Archives of 1911
  3. ^ [3] Yale Daily News, Volume XXXIV, No 172, Wednesday, May 10, 1911
  4. ^ [4] Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) website
  5. ^ a b c [5] Records of the Inter-Collegiate Yacht Racing Association (ICYRA)
  6. ^ [6] Trophy section of US Naval Academy website (Main --> McMillan Cup)
  7. ^ a b c d Personal communication in late 2013 from Mike Horn, sometime Head Coach at Harvard and CEO of ICYRA/ICSA
  8. ^ [7] History page of MIT Sailing website
  9. ^ [8] New York Times, April 26, 1937, Page 25
  10. ^ [9] Cornell Daily Sun, Volume 57, Number 153, 1 May 1937
  11. ^ [10] MIT newspaper 'The Tech', Volume LVII, No. 42, November 9, 1937
  12. ^ [11] Inter-Collegiate Regatta Origins
  13. ^ [12] Trophy section of US Naval Academy website (ICYRA --> Morss Trophy)
  14. ^ [13] Canadian Intercollegiate Sailing Association (CICSA) website
  15. ^ [14] Trophy section of US Naval Academy website
  16. ^ [15]
  17. ^ Fairfield University Sailing Team
  18. ^ [16]
  19. ^ Marquette University Sailing Team
  20. ^ McGill University Sailing Team
  21. ^ NC State University Sailing Club Race Team
  22. ^ Northwestern University Sailing Team
  23. ^ Queen's University Sailing Team
  24. ^
  25. ^ ICSA College Sailing Hall of Fame webpage. ICSA website. Retrieved 2011-01-08. All-American and Hall of Fame Awards Archived 2007-04-10 at the Wayback Machine webpage. ICSA website. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
  26. ^ See: Navy Midshipmen § Sailing (intercollegiate), Navy Midshipmen § Facilities, and Facilities: Robert Crown Sailing Center. Naval Academy Varsity Athletics official website. Retrieved 2011-01-08.

External linksEdit