Fordham Sailing capped off its regular season last month by finishing 3rd at the America Trophy regatta. It was their best-ever finish at the event, which serves as the year-end conference championship.

The finish also helped propel Fordham Sailing to 16th in the May issue of Sailing World’s College Rankings, said team coach Johnny Norfleet. Fordham Sailing is a club team that was reintroduced to the University in 1999, after a lengthy hiatus. It also happens to be the University’s only coed sport team.

Fordham on the Sound“It’s a non-issue because most of these guys have been competing as a coed unit since they were kids,” said Norfleet.

The team, along with nine other top teams, qualified for the Inter Collegiate Sailing Association’s (ISCA) Coed National Semifinals, being held in Charleston, South Carolina, this week. It marked their 5th straight appearance there. The Fordham women’s team also finished 10th for the ICSA Women’s National Semifinals, narrowly missing a spot in the finals.

The club is a member of the Middle Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association and operates out of the Morris Yacht Club on City Island, just a 20-minute drive from the Rose Hill campus.

“City Island is a great place to sail, it’s a little surprising that you can have a school like Fordham in a big city and have access to such a great sailing venue on an everyday basis,” said Norfleet. “It’s not a sport that you think of as engrained in the city’s culture, but there’s a surprisingly large sailing community in New York, including many who are Fordham alumni. It’s a pretty big network.”

The Fordham team boasts 27 men and women who compete together, which is the norm in sailing, he said.

“It’s a unique sport in that you have to work as a unit with a diverse group of people, though there are different ways that men and women interact and approach their sport,” he said.

Norfleet said that during competitions each team has a “double-handed,” “420” sailboat on the water, which is to say two people on a 4.2-meter-long boat. Winds and currents dictate who ends up on the boat because of their weight, with the combined total generally ranging between 250 to 300 pounds. As such, the choice doesn’t have anything to do with sex, but rather it’s to do with weight and skill. Only about four to six members make it onto the water for most of the “A Level” competitions, though the rest of the team plays a big role.

“They’re the ones out there pushing them every day,” he said.

Still, with a host of competitions in the spring and fall catering to variety of skill levels, every team member will have sailed an event by the end of the season, Norfleet said.


Tom Stoelker is senior staff writer and visual media coordinator for Fordham News. After fifteen years as a freelance designer, Tom shifted his focus to writing and photography. He graduated from Lehman College, CUNY where he majored in English literature and photography and he received his master's in journalism from Columbia University. His work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Wall Street Journal, and The Architect's Newspaper, where he was associate editor.