Monday, August 12, 2013

West Coast Tour - Snipe 24-hour Regatta

by Kate Sheahan
West Coast Tour Coordinator

The Snipe class has a long history of world-class members with a wide range of ages, including many Olympians. Carol Cronin who competed in the women’s triple-handed keelboat at the Athens Olympics in 2004 explains that, “The Snipe was originally designed in 1931 for a contest in Rudder Magazine. 80+ years later the class is still going strong, with active fleets around the U.S. In South America, it’s the default double-handed racing dinghy. In Europe, Spain and Italy are the powerhouses, though Scandinavia also boasts several active fleets. And recently fleets in the UK and Menorca have been reestablished, proof that this classic hard-chined sailboat still provides a challenge for sailors of all ages.”

A hard-working class is allowed to cut loose every once in a while, and in following a class motto, “Serious Sailing, Serious Fun: Traditions Build Winners,” the tradition of the Snipe 24-hour regatta has persisted. It is an event held annually for the past thirty years at Mission Bay in San Diego. Teams with a dozen or so members arrive Friday evening ready to sail for 24 hours straight, always with a team name and often with team uniforms. This year the UC Santa Barbara team, called the “Gauchos” on the college racing circuit, donned large matching sombreros, which they managed to wear throughout the night.

Prior to the skipper’s meeting, MBYC Race Director Christ Wright made sure all members, especially those new to a Snipe, had a rundown of the basics, including how to launch the whisker pole, ease the halyard downwind and clip in the steel centerboard. This year the event began at 6pm with a series of relay obstacles, leading to a short distance swim, and finally a rigging race and launch in to Mission Bay to start logging laps. Through the late evening the sounds of SDYC Junior Director John Fretwell’s band, Two-Bit Liquor, drifted over the bay. As sailors completed laps around Mission Bay’s Vacation Village Island, taking roughly an hour, they deposited a branded ping pong ball to their team’s queue – the official scoreboard. 
Snipe veteran, Don Bedford of Mission Bay, sailed his first event in 1981 and says the format has not changed a bit over the years. Listen to Don’s interview about where the original idea came from.

Follow the West Coast Tour on Twitter at @USSailing as I head north for the A-Cat North Americans in Long Beach and on to the Melges 24 PCCs in San Francisco, plus a piece of the America's Cup action.

Click to check out The West Coast Tour Schedule

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