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2007 Snipe Winter Circuit

Lynn Fitzpatrick of Miami Regattas and Fried Elliott provide the following reports from the Snipe Winter Circuit.

  • March 11-13 - Midwinter Championship - Clearwater, FL
  • March 16-18 - Don Q Regatta - Miami, FL
  • March 21-24 - Bacardi/Gamblin Memorial Series - Nassau, Bahamas


  • March 11 - March 12-13 - March 18 - March 26

    Bacardi/Gamblin Memorial Series
    (March 26, 2007) If you believe your Snipe has a soul, then surely there is a Snipe heaven and its gates are the Royal Nassau Sailing Club.

    Much like the immortal Gods of Olympus, the Bahamians have perfected the art of racing their Snipes and enjoying themselves in a leisurely, refined, yet wickedly devilish sort of way in which each day the physically demanding on-the-water action is followed by equally demanding onshore consumption and late night mayhem.

    As a result, every day starts pretty much the same: you wake up and wish you were dead. But with great charm and grace your local host drags you down to the club where somehow you manage to launch your Snipe, hoist sails, and within minutes of leaving the dock you are on a screaming plane out to the course. Adrenalin cures all.

    The first race of the day begins promptly at 1100 hours. You start grinding up the mile-long beat. The wind gauge reads a steady 18 knots. Depending on the current, you find yourself either picking your way through a long swell or battling a steep rip chop. Five minutes up the first beat you start remembering why you hurt so much. But the fleet is still bunched up so you hang in there until the windward mark approaches where you bear away… and enter Snipe heaven.

    click to enlarge
    A Snipe reaches like you’ve only dreamed about. Square to the wave, a pump and a rock --- to which the Snipe responds like the thoroughbred you’ve always known her to be --- and you are launched through the cresting white water into the deep trough of the infinite aqua blue beyond. The gybe mark is lost in the swell but the next wave is all that matters; yet, all too quickly it looms ahead. Invariably, someone has tripped over their board, capsizing near the mark, and causing you to zig zag furiously… and enter Snipe hell.

    The gybe mark here has a storied past. Its floats serenely in the midst of Snipes screaming through a chaotic graveyard of capsized Snipes and bobbing Snipe sailors, swarming rescue boats, all manner of flotsam, bent masts, broken poles, the water shredded into a white froth and the air filled with the sounds of snapping sails, shouting sailors, and whistling wind. I personally believe ghosts of past Snipe sailors reach up from the shallow depths and grab the daggerboards and rudders as they slice by, just to amuse themselves. You escape and don’t look back.

    click to enlarge
    Another reach, another beat, another triangle, a finish, and a blast reach back to the club. You pull yourself onto the dock and just lay down. You’ve made it. And you just start laughing because you know you get to do it all over again. But only after lunch and a short nap on the pool deck.

    This year’s fleet contained representatives from six countries and was sailed by the current SCIRA Commodore and four past SCIRA Commodores. Whether first timer or past commodore, everyone is treated like visiting royalty and even visiting retired Snipe super crews find themselves enjoying the many fringe benefits.

    The young team from Mexico of Jorge Murrieta and Andres Akle dominated the action on the water. Their Pan Am training program is strict and they are rounding into excellent form. Snipe sailing around the world is undergoing a resurgence based on the participation of top caliber youth sailors and these young gentlemen are emblematic of that process.

    click to enlarge
    But they are also new to the class and so while they have the “serious sailing” well in hand, they have not yet fully appreciated that true Snipe champions also earn their titles by leading the way when it comes to “serious fun”. So next year when they return to defend their titles, mandatory attendance at all social functions followed by the obligatory late night runs to “The Waterloo” will be strictly enforced.

    You owe yourself and your Snipe at least one visit to the Royal Nassau Sailing Club and Montagu Bay. This is one of those few things in life where the ends justify the means. Your sailing soul will be enriched forever. Just get here. Oh, and bring along a spare mast. - Story and photos by Fried Elliott

  • Bacardi Cup results
  • Dudley Gamblin results


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    Don Q Regatta - Wrap-up

    Relaxing off the water. Photo by Fried Elliott

    (March 18, 2007) On Friday morning, Gonzalo Diaz Sr., The Old Man, welcomed 52 Snipe crews to the 41st Annual Don Q Regatta hosted by Coconut Grove Sailing Club. This was also the 41st Don Q Regatta in which The Old Man has competed and it has become more than a family tradition for the Diaz family. This year, The Old Man, his two sons, Augie and Gonzo, and Augie’s son, Lucas and Gonzo’s son, Gonzo raced in four separate boats. While they were out on the water, Carmen Diaz and her crew managed registration, Saturday’s Daiquiris and Cuban meal for all of the competitors.

    Other Miami fleet families committed to the Snipe are the Commette and the Voss families. Each family fielded a father-daughter team while their eldest offspring competed with high school or college friends. Kay Voss, the regatta scorer, is one of the backbones of the Miami Snipe fleet. With 52 teams here, it is refreshing to see families, juniors, foreigners and familiar faces from all over North America enjoying sunshine and challenging wind conditions on Biscayne Bay.

    Friday’s races were in extremely heavy air so the heavy-weight teams who didn’t have to resort to tightening down their shrouds and could stay powered up and fully hiked through six long beats faired well. Also sailing well were the youngsters who just don’t seem to be bothered by lactic acid build up and perennial aches and pains. Saturday’s westerly forced everybody to keep their heads out of the boat looking for tell tale signs as to whether the next big blast was going to come from Coconut Grove or Miami. The fleet was jumbled and scrambled quite a bit during the first race. During the second race of the day, more than a few times, crews went from being crouched and sitting inside the boat to auto tacked and straight leg hiked (and there was a lot of hiking during the second race).

    There was no run away leader going into Sunday’s final race of the five-race no throw out series. Quantum’s George Szabo and Alan Capellin went into the race averaging a 4, with 16 points, followed by Ernesto Rodriguez and Kathleen Tocke with 17.75, Augie Diaz (The Old Man’s son) and Pam Kelly with 19.75 points, Andy Pimental and Julia Langford with 22 points and Peter and Sheehan Commette (father daughter team) with 22.75 points.

    Andy and Julia jumped out into the lead and held onto it throughout the entire five-leg windward leeward course. Doug Hart and Fred Moffat, George Szabo and Alan Capellin, Peter and Sheehan Commette, Dave Hebert and Bill Schoenberg, Mike Blackwood and Dan Gautrud and Ernesto Rodriguez and Kathleen Tocke and the father-son team of Todd and Lee Sackett, would slide by each other on waves going down the run and pick off one another on shifts going up the beats. There was added drama at the top of the second beat when the race committee realized that the mark was not holding. The fleet rounded an anchored mark boat and the offset mark to go downwind to a gate that was very right hand favored. In the end, Andy and Julia sailed the course unchallenged for the lead. Peter and Sheehan Commette held on to a second and Ernesto Rodriguez and Kathleen Tocke powered through the top heavy top of the fleet to finish third.

    After Kay Voss sorted through the results, George Szabo won his 4th Don Q Regatta. He and Alan had a total of 20 points. Ernesto and Kathleen were second with 22.75 points; Andy and Julia were third with 23 points. Only 7.75 points separated the top five boats in the regatta. Juniors Nick Voss and Andy Rahn finished in the top ten for the regatta for the second year in a row. - Lynn Fitzpatrick

    1. Szabo/Capellin – 20 points.
    2. Rodriguez/Tocke – 20.75
    3. Pimental/Langford – 23
    4. Commette/Commette – 24.75
    5. Diaz/Kelly – 27.75
    6. Murrieta/Avilla Camanho – 44.75
    7. Blackwood/Gautraud – 49.0
    8. Voss/Rahn - 57
    9. Hiebert/Schoenberg – 62
    10. Sackett/Sackett – 66

    Complete results at http://www.cgsc.org

    Click here for photos.

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    Snipe Midwinters - Day 2 & 3
    (March 12-13, 2007) Racers watched opposing land and sea breezes off of Clearwater Beach for several hours on Monday and Tuesday. The boat that seemed to size up how to connect the dots the best was that steered by Augie Diaz and crewed by Tracy Nan Smith. On Monday, the sea breeze finally prevailed. With puffs up to eight knots, few of us had a chance to stretch our legs and our backs going up the beats. The race committee was able to start and finish two races on Monday and another two on Tuesday. Going into Tuesday, Augie Diaz and Tracy Nan Smith established themselves as the clear leaders in the 2007 Pan Am Trials. With a six races or greater, racers were granted a discard.

    Tuesday’s first race was in 4-5 knot zephyrs from land. Augie and Tracy led the 34- boat fleet around the course despite the wind filling in from different sides during the runs. There was a lull in between races while the breeze subsided and filled in from the West. The leading edge was strong, but the final race of the series was also in 5 knots of light, fickle, scary, shifty conditions. Augie and Tracy rose to the occasion with a 1, 3 in the final two races. They ended the 7 race series with a total of 11 points.

    The boat that really came on strong during the final two days of super light air was sailed by Brian Bissel and Alexis Rubin. The team posted two second place finishes and two first place finishes, ending the regatta with 17 points. Mikee Anderson-Mitterling and Dave Hughes, who are taking a short break from their Olympic 470 campaign, posted a 12, 2 in the final day to move into third for the regatta. The top three teams will represent the US at the Pan Am Games in Rio de Janeiro this July.

    Teams are now on their way to Miami for the second event of the Snipe Southern Circuit - the Don Q Regatta - which begins Friday, March 16. - Lynn Fitzpatrick

    Final: 1. Diaz/Smith –11 pts. 2. Bissell/Rubin – 17 pts. 3. Anderson-Mitterling/Hughes 24 pts. 4. Commette/Commette – 33 pts. 5. Gilreath/Lieble – 34 pts.

    Complete results at www.clwyc.org/snipemidwinters07/mw_results.htm

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    Snipe Midwinters - Day 1
    (March 11, 2007) The Snipe Southern Circuit started on Sunday in Clearwater, Florida. Among the wonderful things about the Circuit’s first regatta, which also doubles at the 2007 US Pan American Trials, are that attendance is double what it was last year, there are a lot of new faces and young teams here, and our Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish friends have joined us to soak up the sunshine and enjoy the soft water sailing. Skippers and teams that have been contenders at the World level for quite a while are dominating the light air, three day regatta.

    After three races in light to moderate air, Miami Fleet representatives are leading the regatta. Augie Diaz, the current Snipe World, World Master, North American and US Champion, is sailing with Tracy Nan Smith. The team is clearly demonstrating how to choose the right end of the line, figure out the current, make rig adjustments and get through the chop. Augie and Tracy are 2 points ahead of Ernesto Rodriquez and Leandro Spina, 4 points ahead Peter and Sheehan Commette and 9 points ahead of Hal Gilreath and James Lieble. The three leaders have put in a lot of practice time on Biscayne Bay recently. It’s a pleasure to see the teams of Mikee Anderson Mitterling and Dave Hughes and Brian Bissel and Alexis Rubin leading the next pack of contestants. It looks as if Anderson Mitterling/Huhes figured out the Snipe once the breeze came up.

    Following the Clearwater Regatta the Snipes will sail the Don Q Regatta in Miami and then travel to Nassau, Bahamas for the Bacardi Gamblin Trophy and other events on Montague Bay. - Lynn Fitzpatrick

    1. Diaz/Smith – 2,2,5 – 9pts. 2. Rodriguez/Spina – 5,5,1 – 11 pts. 3. Commette/Commette – 1,4,8- 13 pts. 4. Gilreath/Lieble – 4,9,4 – 17 pts. 5. Anderson-Mitterling/Hughes - 16, 1, 2 – 19 pts.

    Complete results at www.clwyc.org/snipemidwinters07/mw_results.htm

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