An MIT sailing coach won a major regatta last week, with an undergraduate as his crew in a boat built by the MIT sailing master.
Olympic 2004 hopeful Mike Kalin, now in his second year as varsity sailing coach at the Institute, and Ariya Dararutana, a junior in electrical engineering, beat 59 other boats to take first place in the Interclub Dinghy Frostbite Nationals held on Duxbury Bay Dec. 1-2.
"Many of these sailors are the rock stars of the sailing world and compete at the highest levels of the sport in other fleets during the warmer months," said MIT sailing master and varsity coach Fran Charles. "Among them were national and world champions, Olympic medalists, All-Americans and sailing professionals. It was probably one of--if not the--most competitive regatta of the year."
Kalin's crew member, Dararutana, learned to sail only last year at MIT but has since become a "top crew" for the MIT Engineers, said Charles. "She frequently would 'switch-hit' with the coed team as well as the women's sailing team during the intercollegiate season."
Kalin and Dararutana had three first-place finishes in the 12-race regatta, and an "amazingly consistent" day with no race finishes worse than 12th, according to Charles, chair of the the race committee for the Scituate Frostbite Association, which hosted the event along with the Duxbury Maritime School. The competition is designed to bring together sailors of many different boat types to compete against one another in the interclub dinghy, a "bathtub" of a boat resembling the single-sail Tech Dinghy, said Charles.
It was the first time the 27-year-old Kalin had raced in an interclub dinghy.
"The most rewarding thing about the win was that it was a big team effort run on a shoestring budget," said Kalin, who along with Charles and MIT boat rigger John Pratt spent about three weeks getting the boat dubbed "Susan B" ready for the regatta.
"The boat was originally built out of wood 10 years ago by Fran over a three-year period. The big project in the last few weeks was making the centerboard and trunk to maximum specifications," said Kalin. "Fran was very pleased to see 10 years of painstaking work finally pay off in the form of a racing machine."
Charles said the Frostbite regatta, usually held in the early spring at the end of the winter racing season, was held in the fall this year so it wouldn't interfere with Charles' intercollegiate competition schedule. Planners couldn't have guessed that a warm New England fall would put the Frostbite in balmy 70-degree temperatures.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 12, 2001.