Sailing at the University of Rhode Island dates back to the fall of 1935, when Professor Ed Shock designed and built 4 wooden dinghies for students to practice their racing in. He complained to President Bressler that storing the dinghies in the boiler room of Lippett Hall could destroy the wooden boats. Though some things haven’t changed since then, the team has come a long way. After sailing was resurrected by Ralph Potter in the 40s, the program would go years before a small group built a boat house in 51. In the 60s sailors would practice in Beverly dinghies and in 65 Art Paine along with Peter Greene led the Team to its first National Championship. In the 70s the team became a power, producing 8 All-Americans as well winning 3 National Championships (2 dinghy and 1 team race). The Team would go through many changes in early 80s, as it would go from varsity to club sport and would return back to the Saltpond after a stay in East Greenwich. There was also a change in boats as a used fleet of 420s was purchased from Yale. All the changes didn’t change the group’s success, as 10 more All-Americans were chosen from the University.
In 1989, the first campaign began with the hopes of building a new facility, purchasing a new fleet and developing an endowment to support the team for years to come. The first new fleet in over 30 years was not far behind, as the team would take delivery of 12 Vanguard FJs in the fall 92. The program continued it’s winning ways and in 1990 the team won it’s first ever World Keelboat Championship. The 90s brought big things, none bigger then a new home. In 1992 the Robert P Arrigan Sailing Pavilion as opened for both competitive and instructional use. URI now had the capacity to do big things and 1998 they took delivery on a fleet of 18 boats to do it with. The boats were built light and lively and have been a hit just about everyone how sails them. As a result, the University was awarded the right to host the 2001 ICSA National Co-ed Dinghy Championship. The event was held off Roger Wheeler Beach in Galilee and displayed, to all of college sailing, what URI sailing has to offer. Today, the team practices 4 days a week on the Saltpond, regularly filling all 18 FJs.
With the guidance of a fulltime head coach, they compete at as many as 8 regattas per weekend, dueling with all the top teams throughout the spring and fall. The team, which can be found regularly within national rankings, strives to continue the success of all of those from years past.
During its 75 year history, the URI Sailing Team has won every major New England Championship as well as many other District and National Championships. Thirty team members have been named to the All-American squad.
- In 2011 URI Women placed first in Women’s Nationals and finished 12th in Coed Nationals held Cascade Locks, OR
- URI appeared an eleventh time at the Collegiate Keelboat World Championships in October 2009, finishing 4th.
- In June of 2009, the URI Women’s Team qualifies for its first nationals in over 30 years. The team traveled to the west coast where they did battle against the big winds and tides of San Francisco Bay.
- URI appeared a tenth time at the Collegiate Keelboat World Championships in October 2007. In 2007, the second brand new fleet of FJs is purchased by URI. This new fleet made specifically for URI replaces the fleet purchased in 1998.
- Matt Kastan is named to the ICSA All Academic Team. The honor is the first in URI’s history.
- Joey Mello is named the Team’s second full-time head coach, September 2005.
- URI appeared a ninth time at the Collegiate Keelboat World Championships in October 2004.
- The 2002 Sloop Team takes second place at the New England Sloop Championships and qualifies for the ICSA National Sloop Championship held at the
- New York Yacht Club on Narragansett Bay.
- In June of 2001, the University of Rhode Island Sailing Team hosted the Intercollegiate Sailing Association’s North American Co-ed Dinghy
- Championships. Eighteen teams, representing the 7 ICSA districts, attended the regatta held in the Point Judith Harbor of refuge. The top team was Tufts University, coached by URI All-American, Ken Legler.
- Scott Norris is named full-time Head Sailing Coach at the University of Rhode Island in September 2000. This is the first full-time coach for sailing in 22 years.
- In May of 1999, the Sailing Team hosted the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association Championship, the Coast Guard Bowl, for the first time. Seventeen teams attended with the top four qualifying for the National Championships in St. Petersburg, Florida.
- Also in May of 1999, the Sailing Team hosted the Moody Trophy for the first time as an Intersectional Trophy event. Fourteen teams competed for the Moody Trophy.
- URI appeared an eighth time at the Collegiate Keelboat World Championships in October 1998.
- In 1998, a new eighteen-boat fleet of Flying Juniors was constructed for the Sailing Team. This expansion allows the team to host Intersectional Championships.
- In 1996, a new fleet of Tech Dinghies replaced an 18-year-old fleet. The boats have improved the lesson program immensely and they have become popular with team members. The boats are now used for some team practices and home regattas in conjunction with our racing fleet.
- URI appeared a seventh time at the Collegiate Keelboat World Championships in October 1996.
- Since 1992, major changes in facilities benefited both the competitive and instructional programs. The 3600 square foot Robert P. Arrigan Memorial
- Sailing Pavilion was completed in 1992. The building replaced the 1951 facility and greatly expanded the capabilities of both programs.
- The 1990 Keelboat Team, skippered by three-time All American Lars Guck, became the only US team to win the Collegiate Keelboat World Championships and is currently the only URI athletic team to ever win a world title.
- In the mid-80s, the team’s Keelboat squad gained notoriety for itself with back-to-back wins at the Kennedy Cup regatta. This series of wins ultimately led to the Team being selected by the French organizing committee to attend the first of six consecutive World Collegiate Keelboat Championships.
- The Sailing Team became a club sport in 1981 under the guidance of the Office of Recreation Services where it flourishes today.
- A first place finish in the Dinghy Championships in 1977 was followed by a third place in 1978. Two-time All-Americans Gary Knapp and Ed Adams led the way.
- In 1975, the Sailing Team moved to the East Greenwich Yacht Club and won its second National Dinghy Championship. The team also won its only National Team Race Championship that year.
- Led by All-Americans Skip Whyte and Henry Bossett, the 1971 Team won six major championships, were ranked second nationally and finished third at the National Championships.
- The first URI sailor named to the All-American Team was Tom Dykstra in 1970.
- In 1965, URI sailors captured their first North American Dinghy Championship and were led by local sailors Art Payne and Peter Green. RI State College Boat Club members built the first sailing facility on Salt Pond in 1951. Three principal members of that group included Jim Leslie, Gordon Napier and Tony Faella.
- During the late 1940s, Ralph Potter helped resurrect the sailing team following its hiatus during World War II. He also sailed for the RI State College Boat Club and led the Team to numerous wins on Narragansett Bay and the New England Small College Championship.
- Sailing began at RI State College in 1935 under the guidance of engineering professor Edson Shock.