Veronica Brown

Tech Dinghy, Firefly and FJ fleets at MIT are equipped with North Sails made with Radian sail cloth

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) sailing program, which races primarily in FJs, Fireflies, and Tech Dinghies, has enjoyed much success this year with a 2nd place finish at the Boston Dinghy Cup in March and more recently an impressive 4th place finish at the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) Coed National Semi-Finals and 14th at the National. Perennially ranked nationally in the top 15, this was MIT's first appearance at the ICSA Nationals since 2008.

MIT Tech Dinghies with North Radian sails
MIT's fleet of Tech Dinghies, which were originally designed by Professor George of the Naval Architecture Department in 1936, along with their fleet of Fireflys and FJs are all outfitted with new North sails made with North Radian sail cloth. These sails have been exceeding the expectations of MIT's Sailing Master Franny Charles. "The shape of all of these sails have been spot on and the quality is a dramatic improvement over the crosscut dacron sails employed in the past," Charles said. "Team racing takes a toll on sails and the Radian material has exhibited much better durability and shape holding than regular dacron. Furthermore, competitive fleet racing in 30 knots with temps in the upper 30s makes for an extremely high rate of flutter which can be brutal on durability of any sailcloth. The radian sails look great after a year of daily punishment,” he said.

MI dedicated a 6th generation Tech Dinghy, thanks to design help from Penn Edmonds (designer of America Cubed) and feedback from Halsey Herreshoff (designer of the 3rd generation Tech Dinghy) at the MIT Sailing Pavilion on June 7, 2013. The new tech dinghies are replacing traditional single skin fiberglass boats that were notoriously heavy. Edmonds and Claudio Cairoli have helped re-design the new generation hull, which features a lighter weight boat that is roomier in the cockpit, has self-bailing capabilities, and enhanced sailing dynamics. Thirty boats have been built using carbon fiber internal skin on a fully cored hull and deck built with a resin infused, vinylester, vacuum bagged process which has cut the weight of the boat in half.

"This is an exciting time for MIT and in our effort to make sailing accessible to all who wish to learn, I think the 6th generation Tech Dinghy is being introduced at the perfect time," continued Charles. "Our program uses Tech Dinghies to teach more than 2,000 students annually how to sail, which is more than 20% of the entire student body at MIT. We are fortunate to have a lot of sailors in the MIT family, including North Technology Group owner Terry Kohler, and it is these people who understand our vision and enjoy seeing as many people as possible visit the incredibly inclusive MIT Sailing Pavilion and get out there on the water in fun and lively boats," Charles concluded.

In 2012, in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of sailing at MIT, the Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation dedicated a new floating dock system and a fleet of Firefly sailboats at the Walter C. Wood Sailing Pavilion. The floating dock, named for North Sails founder Lowell North, allowed MIT to operate the racing and rec program of over 100 boats right until sunset every night of the week. For more information about the MIT Sailing Program, visit: http://sailing.mit.edu/