URI club sailing team heads to nationals, collects post-season hardware

Ranked 12th in the nation, squad wins four regional awards, including coach of the year and all-division teams

KINGSTON, R.I. — May 9, 2024 — The University of Rhode Island club sailing team is capping off a successful race season with a trip to the national championship and a handful of regional post-season awards, including Coach of the Year and first-team all-division honors.

The sailing team is headed to the Fleet Race National Championship at the end of May in both the Open and the Women’s divisions, ranked 12th and 28th in the country, respectively. The teams finished in the top 5 in regattas several times throughout the season, coming out on top twice and finishing second in total points four times.

“Our fleet racing has had some great highlights,” said first-year coach Joakim Karlsen. “The boats have been really, really good. They’ve been consistently top 5 at these events, which is really remarkable. I’m super excited for our boats and that the crews are getting the recognition they’re getting.”

Such team success has led to individual post-season awards, including for skipper Kerem Erkman, named to the All-New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association first team in the Open Division, putting him in position to be URI’s first All-American sailor since 2017 with a good showing at nationals. Crewmember Abby Chipps was named to the All-NEISA second team, and graduating sailor Miles Williams received the Senior Trophy, which goes to a member of the class “who has exhibited the best combination of skill and sportsmanship throughout the last four years on NEISA.”

Karlsen, who took over the team just two weeks before the start of the season last fall, was named Coach of the Year from among the 36 coaches in the division.

“That was unexpected, but very nice. Coach of the year is voted on by the other coaches, which makes it very humbling,” Karlsen said. “I’m grateful for that recognition, but it’s a recognition for the whole team. The sailors have been really amazing to bring me in, welcome me to the team, and quickly rally around what are our goals. It’s awarded to me, but it doesn’t work without the sailors, as well as the school and the faculty being involved and supporting the team. If we’re not all into it, we’re not going to do well and we’re not going to get recognized.”

The recognition is likely to continue beyond the current season, as most of the team will be returning next year.

“We have a pretty young team. We’re only graduating one skipper and just one crew member,” Karlsen said. “They’ll be a big loss to the team, but I’m excited to bring so many sailors back next year. Getting a full year with the whole team together is going to be really exciting. We’ll see what we can do.”