Midwinters and Don Q
Winter (?) in Florida I have been many times to the United States for Snipe sailing, but everytime, when I take the plane with the "green monster" (my big suitcase) loaded with sails, spreaders, sheets and other equipment, I am always very happy and eager to land on the other side of the pond. Leaving Europe for travel to find many friends and competing in the Floridian “Winter" is a perspective that brings me to work hard in January and February, so I can buy the gift of ten days' holiday for the circuit. My schedule this year included the Midwinters in Clearwater, on the Gulf of Mexico, and the Don Q in Miami. Both regattas with my "prodiera americana" (American crew) Bridget.
Winter (?) in Florida
I have been many times to the United States for Snipe sailing, but everytime, when I take the plane with the “green monster” (my big suitcase) loaded with sails, spreaders, sheets and other equipment, I am always very happy and eager to land on the other side of the pond.
Leaving Europe for travel to find many friends and competing in the Floridian “Winter” is a perspective that brings me to work hard in January and February, so I can buy the gift of ten days’ holiday for the circuit.
My schedule this year included the Midwinters in Clearwater, on the Gulf of Mexico, and the Don Q in Miami. Both regattas with my “prodiera americana” (American crew) Bridget.
It’s hard, after waking at 4 AM (Italian time), arriving in Miami in the afternoon, going to the Bacardi party, then to Clearwater, after stopping in Fort Lauderdale to fold Stars sails with George, in the middle of the night … finally arrive in Clearwater at 6 AM (U.S. East Coast time). Thanks Eric for driving all the time!
The first regatta is one of the oldest in the Snipe class. I like it because it is a “regata balneare” (a regatta on a beach in summer) and for many reasons it reminds me of sailing on the Adriatic Sea during Ferragosto (in the middle of August). It is funny for an European sailing in March as if it were August. The Spring Breakers noisily hang out in the beaches, wearing bermudas or incredible bikinis. On the water, along the channel of entrance to the harbour, there are the most absurd and loud crafts: jet skis, motorboats towing parachutes, plastic canoes on which unwary vacationers sit ready to be unseated, improbable pirate galleon (with motor) that shoots with fake cannons …
On the land at the sailing center or in the evening at the club the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. On the water the races are very technical and challenging, for the current and wind shifts. This year the wind was predominantly an offshore wind, in some cases quite strong. I expected to find light wind in Clearwater, but this year we often sailed with medium wind. And when it was light … you can never assume you won … I know the lesson. I lost fifteen boats in a run, in a race where I had a very large lead and I thought I had already won. Presumptuous!
This year, the rulers were Ernesto Rodriguez & Megan Place, very consistent both with breeze and light winds. Impressive Kevin Reali & Tim King, winners of three races. On the third step of the podium the Argentines Emanuel Aghem & Luciano Pesci, followed by Arthur Blodgett & Julia Melton. First female team and fifth ranked Carol Cronin & Kim Couranz (co-editors of this site).
I was pleasantly surprised by the unexpected decision of the sailors to vote for me for the prize Sportmanship Award. Thank you all! I never expected to be so popular in America, Grazie.
After another exhausting trip driving the van (this time Eric had mostly slept … while I drove), at 3 AM we arrived in Miami. Eric did not remember where the Voss’ home was, where we were going to sleep. After messing around for half an hour in search of the house, I decided to send a text message to Giovanni Stella (aka Johnny Estrella) in Italy, asking him the exact address. Johnny responded me, very efficiently, after 30 seconds … so we were able to go to sleep. Finally. We needed help from Italy.
“Attention Snipe Sailors”
The Don Q is the regatta of Gonzalo “Old Man” Diaz. It is his creation.
I like arriving at the Coconut Grove Sailing Center and embracing Carmen Diaz and Old Man. This regatta is based on their incredible hospitality.
Fifty three boats from nine countries attended this year’s Don Q. There were many champions of the Snipe Class, as if it were a World Championship, but here the atmosphere is decidedly more relaxed, even if on the water the competitive spirit always prevails. Sailing in Biscayne Bay is fantastic, but also extremely difficult. When you believe to have understood something of the bay … you are immediately denied!
The winners of the regatta were 2009 World Champions Bruno Bethlem & Dante Bianchi. They started “slowly” on the first day, so they were unsatisfied. Then, however, they were the authors of an exciting progression. Augie Diaz & Kathleen Tocke started very well, but then, eventually they were overtaken by only two points by the Brazilians. In third place was the junior team Raul Rios & Manuel Inserni from Puerto Rico. Besides them there were so many good sailors in Miami this year. To name the top ten: Brian Kamilar & Enrique Quintero (World Champion 2007), Ernesto Rordiguez & Megan Place, Argentines Luis Soubie & Dieguito Lipszich, Eric Heim & Alan Capelin, Kevin & Ashley Reali, Andrew Pimental & Julia Marsh, Anna Tunnicliffe (Snipe Women’s Worlds, Laser Radial Gold medal, Match racing Worlds) & Leandro Spina.
Saturday afternoon, when we arrived at the club after the races, we were greeted at the dock by friends delivering daiquiris. Then the famous and delicious Cuban-style dinner of Mrs. Carmen Diaz. Saturday was also St. Patrick’s Day and the evening continued. I – who usually do not drink much – lost the count of the beers … and my memories of the evening became more and more nebulous … and Sunday morning I was not exactly fresh.
It ‘s difficult to describe in an article the atmosphere of the regattas in Florida. Sun, warm friends, nice sailing. For many Snipe sailors from around the world (Jerry, Bibi, Birger, Jimmy, Lori) sailing in Florida has become a pleasant habit.
La mia prodiera (my crew)
Poor Bridget! She hiked for 6 days on 7 (with our team at 115 kg – 253 pounds – it was almost always required). Kudos to Bridget that she never complained and indeed has always been very good to help me in the boat. Even joking when it needed. Fighting spirit and kindness. I hope to sail with her soon.
Grazie a …
Augie, my American brother. Without his support and without his friendship would be impossible for me to race in the United States.
Kathleen: on Monday, after the regatta, Kathleen led me to be a tourist in Miami. It was like when a couple of years ago, I brought Kathleen to do the tourist to Moruzzo, my small town, … with the proper proportions.
Old Man and Carmen: the hospitality is unique and it is a pleasure listen the innumerable anecdotes about the Snipe Class from the Old Man.
Ken and Kay Voss: Thanks for having me along with many other Snipe sailors at your home in Miami.
Eric (my American cousin): I had with Eric a continual stream of jokes, even when we crossed on the race course. A big ciao to Alan Capelin, who was definitely born in the Veneto!
Carol and Kim, co-editors of SnipeToday, I like hearing from their boat a hearty laugh.
All friends of the Snipe family. Thanks to you all, every time I go to Florida to race I feel at home!