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Scuttlebutt News:

Marketing the Snipe to Current and Post Collegiate Sailors
by Gavin O'Hare - October 23, 2006

Who sails Snipes
Snipe sailors are first and foremost racers. They are competitive in everything they do. They are also fairly progressive toward helping others learn their trade secrets. This is because they realize making their competition stronger will ultimately make themselves better racers. Lastly, Snipe sailors enjoy their motto: Serious Sailing, Serious Fun. Snipe sailors enjoy the social aspects that happen within the racing community. This typically includes social activity post racing as well as non-related events such as surfing, golfing, cycling, and other athletics. These guys and gals are your friends. 'Serious Sailing, Serious Fun' means really competitive and love to have a good time. This is who sails Snipes. Know this and you will better understand who you are marketing to.

Marketing begins with welcoming prospects to the fleet. People who have not sailed Snipes are intimidated by the perceived complexity and cost of the boat. Part of the welcome includes a plan to understand the boat as well as make it easy for new comers to tryout a boat that is representative of good condition and reasonably priced. Fleets must try to connect boat sellers with prospects.

College sailors reside in their own very busy world and usually do not know how or believe they have time to try out Snipe sailing. The key to marketing the Snipe to college sailors is solving this problem. First, figure out who your local college team(s) are and find out contact information for their team representative and/or coach. This info is readily available at: Second, make contact with the local team rep/coach and compare schedules. Find a regatta(s) that the college team is not busy or has excess sailors who might be interested in racing other than college sailing that weekend. Finally, make it easy for the interested college sailors to race - connect them up with a race ready boat, help them rig and launch, and coordinate a debrief (social) after racing to make sure everyone is learning and having fun.

Additionally, cost is a perceived barrier to entry. This can be overcome with an understanding of value. The 10 year old Persson ($5000) is competitive with the brand new Persson or Jibtech ($10,000). This was proven at the 2006 Nationals and Frigit Digit Regattas. The Snipe is a sturdy boat that does not go soft fast or easily. Thus, the re-sale of Snipes is surprisingly high as they hold their value.

Making the transition
New comers to Snipes are often bewildered by the maze of lines and adjustments mechanisms. Typical lack of understanding of rig tune, jib halyard, and mast puller lead to a frustrating experience in the boat if race results are not satisfactory. So, new comers to the boat and non top players in the fleet, should get a refresher course on racing the snipe. This usually includes rigging a boat from scratch and describing all the why's of adjustable parts and control lines. If you talk through each part you rig, you will cover a lot of information. If the boat is rigged on a dolly, the boat can be rotated to give visual of how control lines affect the sail and how skipper and crew cross the boat in tacks and gybes. I like to have a seasoned veteran skipper and crew present so each can share his/her perspective. This can be done in 1.5-2 hours. After the rigging demonstration veterans can partner up with new comers to rig their own individual boats. Next step is to have new comers sail a short windward leeward course. Veteran skippers and crews can critique tacks, gybes, positioning, ect. from a coach boat and possibly swap into the boat to demonstrate first hand. This on the water session can usually be completed in additional 1.5-2 hours.

Closing the loop
Once you have recruited new Snipe sailors, make sure you keep them in the communication loop. Add them to your fleet and national database. Invite them to Snipe socials and future regattas. Let them know when boats become available for sale. These guys and gals will become part of your group of snipe friends. Promote and foster this friendship. - Gavin O'Hare

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