May 31, 2023
Queen’s wins CICSA Championship / Photos: Angus Aitken
It was a dramatic season of racing this year in the Canadian Collegiate Sailing Circuit (CICSA), filled with tight racing, every wind and weather condition imaginable, camaraderie, and the overall national title being decided in the final regatta. The season follows the school year, wrapping up in spring.
Throughout the season, 12 events took place all across the country, from Halifax to Vancouver, spanning from September to April. This year, 20 university teams were involved in the circuit, including 6 US colleges, all taking their bid for the coveted CICSA title. There were also 4 regional titles up for grabs, adding valuable points to a team’s season score and of course, bragging rights over the other teams in their region. While not every regatta ends up counting for a team’s final season score; every point, race position, and regatta win possible is a battle, as the overall National Title is usually decided by less than a point.
Downwind action at the season wrap-up in Kingston
The season began with the Atlantic regional championships, a small yet growing region filled with very talented sailors. The event was dominated by Dalhousie University, an early warning to the rest of CICSA, as DAL 1 and DAL 2 took both 1st and 2nd, setting their season off to a perfect start.
The next of the regionals would take place in Hamilton, where McMaster University hosted the Ontario Regional Championships. UofT took the win at the event, with 1st place in every race in A fleet, becoming the Ontario Regional Champions. Queen’s took home 2nd place, and more valuable points towards their campaign. Laurier came in 3rd to round out the podium in a great event run by McMaster in challenging conditions.
The Quebec Regionals would be a pivotal event in the season, for all teams in the circuit, held as the McGill Invitational. While Dalhousie had shown their intent for the season with their dominant performance in the Atlantic Championships, some of the other teams had not yet noticed the clever strategy that Dalhousie was employing. By targeting specific events to do well at, they were able to maximize their potential points, all the while being a 15-hour drive away from the majority of the events. Dalhousie, led by the duo of Cameron Bruce and Jack Porter, put in solid results all weekend and made minimal mistakes, taking the event win. These were major points for the Dalhousie team, and shot them to the top of the season leaderboard. Queen’s 1 took 2nd place, with McGill 1 close behind, securing them as the Quebec Regional Champions.
Thousands of kilometers away in Victoria BC, the Western Canada Cup would challenge UVIC and UBC against some of the collegiate teams from the US. In a hard-fought event, UVIC 1 would take the win, with Western Washington and Oregon State taking 2nd and 3rd respectively. UVIC became the Western Regional Champions based on their strong showing at this event.
Team Race Nationals brought together 60 sailors from all across the country to compete out of Kingston Yacht Club. Although Saturday came with extreme winds and challenging conditions, the race organizers managed to still achieve over 40 races and give sailors an amazing experience on and off the water. In a fierce final set of races, Queen’s managed to overcome McGill to reclaim the title after a few years of narrowly missing the trophy. Dalhousie took the final podium spot in the event, however would need a good result at Fleet Race Nationals to maintain their overall lead in the season.
In 2022, Fleet Race Nationals required teams to qualify for the event, done by current standing in the overall season, plus a berth to every regional champion. This brought together 11 teams from across the country, all prepared for incredibly tight and competitive racing. The Queen’s skipper duo of Galen Richardson and Julian van den Driessche followed up on their CanAm and Team Race Nationals win by winning the event. Dalhousie took the 2nd place spot with 2022 Female Crew of the Year Margo Karras, and McGill rounding out the podium in 3rd, led by A-fleet skipper and Female Skipper of the Year Iona Wyper.
The season resumed with Match Race Nationals in Vancouver, hosted by West Vancouver Yacht Club. The event was in J22s, with 3 days of racing and a day of training, culminating in an elimination bracket on the Sunday. The UofT team led by Male Skipper and Crew of the Year Alec Coleman and Richard Rychlik Jr, battled through the round-robin and finals series to take the Match Race Nationals win with a record of 10 wins and 0 losses. Queen’s 1 took 2nd place, and UVIC in 3rd.
The 2022-2023 season proved to be one of the tightest and most competitive seasons in a while, not only in the fight for the top spot, but also for all the teams in the midfield. Four new regional champions were decided, and as both the national and regional championships will rotate in the future, it will bring even closer and action-packed racing. Congratulations to the Queen’s Sailing Team for winning the CICSA National Championship this year, and to Dalhousie University Sailing for pushing them all season long.
Canadian Intercollegiate Sailing Association