URI sailing team to return to World Cup regatta

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Six Rhode Islanders making trip to France

KINGSTON, R.I. – October 22, 2007 – No other University representing any other country has been as successful as the University of Rhode Island at the Collegiate Keelboat World Cup Championship.

A club sport for men and women at URI, the coed teams that have represented URI in the world championships have been outstanding. The Rams won a world title in 1990, and finished second in 1992, 1993 and 2004. They came in third in 1988 and 1998.

By capturing the Kennedy Cup, symbolic of the national championship in collegiate sailing last spring, the Rams again qualified for the World Cup regatta in France later this month.

As the only U.S. team to ever win the world keelboat title, this year’s squad is hoping to add another first-place trophy to its collection. Team members are preparing to make their 10th trip to the World Cup in the past 20 years.

This year’s squad is part of an impressive sailing legacy at Rhode Island, one that has produced several Olympians and 26 All-Americans.

“Winning the Kennedy Cup and defeating Navy was a pleasant surprise,” said Art Tuveson, assistant director of athletics and sailing team advisor. “We were thrilled once again to go to Annapolis and beat the Midshipmen on their boats and on their waters.”

“I feel excited, anxious, determined and confident,” said Russ Miller of Annapolis, Md, studying ocean engineering, the trimmer for the team. “This has been a long time coming. We’ve worked hard to raise money and harder still to be competitively prepared. We deserve this and I don’t believe any of the other teams will be as ready as we are.”

Including Miller, there are seven team members, six of whom are Rhode Islanders. They are: Jeff Kittredge of Saunderstown, Greg Seekell of North Kingstown, Lauren Gineo of Newport, Kristen Johnson of East Greenwich, Brian Govednik of Bristol and Ben Quatromoni of Portsmouth.

They will leave for La Rochelle, France on Oct. 23 where they will practice for two days prior to the competition, which begins Oct. 27 and ends the following weekend. The Rams will compete against about 20 countries, including Ireland, Wales, Britain, Italy, Norway, Slovenia, France, Portugal, Spain, Finland, Switzerland, Denmark and Japan.

One of the challenges of the competition is a race at night. “On Friday night of Homecoming Weekend, the Rams were up in Bristol in the dark, rain, fog and mist training for the nighttime event.”

“While the night race is a bit different than what we normally train for, it’s only one race out of the whole series,” Miller said. “Given our practice and the experience of our team I believe that the night race will only be as important or as difficult as the others. So which race is the most important or the hardest? All of them… and we won’t let up for a moment,”

If the team wins the regatta, it will qualify automatically for next year’s race even it fails to win the next Kennedy Cup.

Unlike intercollegiate sports at URI, team members have to pay to compete and they must raise funds for travel and other expenses. After five months of fundraising, the team has raised a little more than $33,500 of its $36,000 goal.

Major supporters of the campaign include: The URI Student Senate, the URI Foundation Boat Committee, and the Newport Yacht Club Foundation, as well as more than 80 individual donors.

This year, five different marine and clothing companies contributed sailing gear to the team. They are: Harken, Ronstan, Henri Lloyd, Sebago and Vineyard Vines.

Sailing fans who wish to follow the progress of the Rams may click on www.sywoc.org to get up-to-date results of the World Cup beginning Oct. 28.