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Scuttlebutt News:

A Class, Club, and Community-Building Regatta

(October 18, 2006) For the International Snipe Class, their World Championship is in odd numbered years, with continental championships hosted in the even years. For 2006, the Americas and Asia will compete in the Snipe Western Hemisphere & Orient Championship (WH&O) in Miami, FL. However, back when the class was seeking a host for the event, with the rotation schedule requiring a North American site, there were not a lot of takers. Why had the WH&O become a regatta that no district, fleet, or club wanted to host? WH&O participation in recent years had slipped to 20-25 hard-core teams with the majority of them hailing from the US and the host country; hardly a money-making regatta.

One change was the catalyst for many, and the result is that this year’s event will be the largest ever, with the maximum number of competitors allowed under the modified deed of gift. A field of 50 teams from 9 countries will kick off the Miami one-design season by competing on Biscayne Bay from October 22nd -26th. But what precipitated the turnaround?

First we changed the deed of gift to encourage more countries to participate. Then we forced competitors to make their intentions clear as to whether they were going to participate or pass on their entry slot. Each member country was allocated 5 slots. Additionally co-ed, women’s, and junior champions from North America, South America, and Asia were given a slot.

An initial registration deadline was established whereby a team was registered only after its national secretary had validated its qualification and registration was paid in full. Vacant slots were reallocated by country according to a formula which favored registering the maximum number of teams allowed during the initial round of registration. By reallocating entry slots and posting the information to the Internet, we were able to have a transparent and efficient registration process that maximized the number of participants and gave regatta organizers a clear indication of what was in store.

As the gateway to the Americas, Miami was sure to draw the most North American and South American teams and was awarded the bid to host the regatta. Fortunately, the Japanese, who had hosted the World Championship in 2005, were willing to send a full complement a long distance.

While there are several sailing facilities on Biscayne Bay, the one that is synonymous with Snipe sailing, Coconut Grove Sailing Club (CGSC), has been in a tenuous situation over the past few years. With an expired ground lease with the City, CGSC has been striving to prove that it is a good citizen. Wouldn’t CGSC want to work hard to impress the City by hosting a world class event? Why not live up to the Snipe Class motto of “serious sailing, serious fun” by supplying challenging racing and some unique landside events? While we were at it, why not get the entire Biscayne Bay Yacht Racing Association to back us up? We have been overwhelmed by the number of members and non-members who have volunteered to help with everything from housing to providing parking.

Finally, as we searched for sponsors, we approached our neighbors with documented information. The City and Coconut Grove merchants are finally aware of the economic impact of the Orange Bowl; the MOCR; Star, Etchells, Lightning, Snipe, Sonar, Opti, Laser, and Yngling regattas. If you sail a regatta in Miami this season you will benefit from the Grove’s new targeted marketing campaign - Sail through the Grove – relax, dine, and unwind. Gift certificates, coupons, and other discounts will be available to all competitors who participate in the major Miami regattas this year.

The 2006 Snipe WH&O is an example of how a struggling class, a club on shaky ground, merchants finally focusing on a target market that could have been identified a century ago, and a City that has overlooked an asset recognized by sailors around the world, are cooperating and fostering a rebirth that will benefit each organization and every one-design sailor who visits Miami this season.

Click here for event website.

Scuttlebutt Sailing Club

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Melges Performance Sailboats

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Team One Newport

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Annapolis Performance Sailing

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Point Loma Outfitting

click here for list of preferred suppliers

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