2013 Miami Snipe Invitational
By Kathleen Tocke We were at the 2011 Snipe Worlds in Denmark and Brian Kamilar, Enrique Quintero, and Tyler Sinks were talking about having a regatta for only younger people. Great Snipe sailors, from the younger generation like Brian, Enrique, Tyler, and Nick Voss have grown up around the Snipe. They get it. Their idea was to get more of their peers involved and introduce them to the boat. The reality is there are so many post-college sailors that don't really have a lot of direction as what to sail (or money). Not every kid can afford an Olympic campaign, but many are interested in sailing at a high level and want the opportunity to compete internationally. This is what we promote.
By Kathleen Tocke
We were at the 2011 Snipe Worlds in Denmark and Brian Kamilar, Enrique Quintero, and Tyler Sinks were talking about having a regatta for only younger people. Great Snipe sailors, from the younger generation like Brian, Enrique, Tyler, and Nick Voss have grown up around the Snipe. They get it. Their idea was to get more of their peers involved and introduce them to the boat.
The reality is there are so many post-college sailors that don’t really have a lot of direction as what to sail (or money). Not every kid can afford an Olympic campaign, but many are interested in sailing at a high level and want the opportunity to compete internationally. This is what we promote.
On the event invite, we advertise getting into the Class as an opportunity to represent your country at the Pan Am Games, which is the next best thing to the Olympics. When kids sail Optis, they all want to go to Team Trials to qualify for one of the International Team events. The Snipe, being a Pan Am Class, is one of the few, non-Olympic Classes that offers this same opportunity (and Mom and Dad aren’t the chaperones!)
And honestly, it’s nice for the Snipe Class’ young talent to showcase their sailing. It’s tough for College All-Americans to come into a Class like the Snipe and get beat-up by “old guys” like Peter Commette, Augie Diaz, and Doug Hart. It’s hard to win. The 30 & under age was just enough to keep past national champion Ernesto Rodriguez out of the picture too. We wanted a good introduction for new young sailors.
The Snipe Class suffered a good 15 year drought of new young blood, but the number of young Snipers is on the rise. This is mostly because of word of mouth, as kids who have grown up in the Class are inviting their friends, and people like Augie Diaz, Peter Commette, myself on the east coast and the John and Aine Fretwell in San Diego are working hard to provide kids from the other juniors Classes with the opportunity to sail the Snipe – boats, sails, coaching.
Last year, I proposed to SCIRA (Snipe Class International Racing Association) that the regatta be a qualifier for the North American Youth Team at the Western Hemisphere Championship. They were concerned that there would not be enough time to promote the regatta in the Class newsletter. I knew this wouldn’t be a problem since young people don’t communicate in the traditional printed form.
We took the Social Media idea and asked the younger sailors in the Class to invite their friends to the MSI. Last year, it was 75% word of mouth, Facebook. Kids stay in activities if their peers are doing it – another reason we had the kids go out and ask their friends.
We included a clinic, and had the Class’ top young sailors coaching. A new skipper is paired up with a very experienced Snipe crew, and a new crew with a really good skipper. It makes the learning curve less steep. Two new Snipe sailors in the boat is like the blind leading the blind. The Snipe is technical, so it helps to have someone in the boat when you are learning that already has it figured out.
Most sailors are spoon-fed from Optis until they graduate from college. They don’t know how to organize a sailing campaign; most have never paid for their own boat or sails. They don’t know how to tune a boat or organize travel to a long distance or international event. It can be daunting, so with the MSI, we take almost all the work out of it for them – provide housing and airport pick-up, make the fees ridiculously low, and give them a Carmen Diaz (famous local mother) Cuban dinner to suck’em into the Class.
The event is totally run and subsidized by Florida Snipe sailors. They lend their boats for free, they provide the patrol, RC, and mark boats, they are the Race Committee, and the Mark-set boats. They house sailors and feed them. This way, the young people get a sense of the close Snipe community.
Maybe they don’t stay in the Class or buy a boat, but when they are 27 and finally have some cash in their pockets, they’ll come back to the Class.
This year we already have teams coming from Canada, Puerto Rico, Colombia, & Ecuador. In October, local fleet member Kay Voss was at a college regatta in Annapolis and kids she didn’t know were asking her about the regatta. It’s working!