14 Questions to … Thierry den Hartigh
Thierry den Hartigh, aka Spike, Snipe Sailor from Belgium - 1) your first time on a sailing boat? My parents bought me an optimist for my 6th birthday. I had never seen a sailing boat before. The first time I was sitting in front in the Optimist, my father was steering with one hand and with a sailing book in his other hand. After that my parents put me in sailing school for 1 month every summer. I think it was more like cheap babysitting. - 2) Your first time on a Snipe? I think it was a regatta in Antwerp with Andre Callot, the Belgian Snipe Class president, when I was 14.
Thierry den Hartigh, aka Spike, Snipe Sailor from Belgium
– 1) your first time on a sailing boat?
My parents bought me an optimist for my 6th birthday. I had never seen a sailing boat before. The first time I was sitting in front in the Optimist, my father was steering with one hand and with a sailing book in his other hand. After that my parents put me in sailing school for 1 month every summer. I think it was more like cheap babysitting.
– 2) Your first time on a Snipe?
I think it was a regatta in Antwerp with Andre Callot, the Belgian Snipe Class president, when I was 14.
– 3) The most bizarre thing that happened in a regatta?
4 Years ago, during the Wiibroe cup in Denmark, the local authorities with their giant Zodiacs pushed the Snipes back over the starting line with their waves. The sea current was too heavy for the light wind conditions. OK, I do understand the frustration of the racing committee, 5 black flags for 1 race is too much. Suddenly +/- 30 min before the start a giant zodiac came from opposite side trying to push us. My crew Tytgat and I we did not notice him. I tacked to approach the line. That moment my crew shouted: SPIKE HELP! Instinctively I tacked again. I think the macho driver of the zodiac was also surprised and did almost a U-turn. The crew of that boat felt into the water. The Zodiac passed half a meter from our Snipe. The results of his action, we found it in our boat… water. We had a good cold gigantic shower caused by his speed wave. It really felt like sailing into a waterfall. Did we had a good start? I don’t think so. We did not say a word. Wet and cold we were approaching the first mark. I asked my crew to prepare the boat for the reaches. My crew Tytgat, still in shock and having this film in mind; 2 Belgians killed in a boat accident in Denmark, quietly replied: Spike, I’m glad you can still speak.
During that race we were talking about safety and security and rules, the difference between motor boats and sailing boats. Once we drank the booze we had we started to laugh, … we were still alive. We finished that race and we saw the crazy driver in parade with 6 other young ladies in his zodiac. The words I said where not nice. This guy just replied. I’m an authority! Tytgat and I we began to laugh again. All the girls in his Zodiac also stared to laugh….Mr. Authority, the asshole! The day after we started normal, after 6 black flags.
– 4) What is the thing that most angers you in a race/regatta?
The people who know the rules, but only use them to their advantages.
– 5) Which is the race/regatta that you remember with the most pleasure?
No doubt, the 2006 Europeans in Pori, Finland with my wife Greet. We had no expectations and we had a good result in sunny conditions, more than 20 hours sun a day.
– 6) And the race/regatta you would like to forget?
No doubt, the 2004 Europeans in Anzio, Italy also with my wife Greet. I became ill the 3rd day and ended the day in hospital. We missed 2 races and missed an opportunity to end in top 10. My wife will never forgive me. Difficult to forget.
– 7) Your “dream in the peak”? (Your sailing dream?)
Sailing the world master Snipe championship with my 6 old boy. The day he will be 20 and I …. 60
– 8) Sailing goals for 2013, and beyond?
Participation in the Worlds in Brazil, with my crew Tytgat.
– 9) The most important people for you in sailing and in the Snipe?
I’m sailing almost 20 years in the Snipe. My wife and I we travelled a lot and met a lot of nice people all over the world. In 2000 we travelled for 6 months in Caribbean and South America. It is amazing to see how Snipe people help each other even when they do not know you. By this, again thank you for your hospitality and friendship. The most important people for me in the snipe are Jan and Jane Persson for their support. I admire Andre Callot, our Belgian National Secretary for his never ending motivation in the Belgian Snipe Class. Without him there would be no Antwerp fleet anymore. He is the ideal leader and the creator of the trendiest and hottest class in Belgium: the Snipe.
– 10) Why the Snipe?
I used to sail cadet, FJ, 470 and Laser before. Never as a pro I sailed only 1 or 2 main regattas a year, for 10 years. I lost my motivation in sailing Laser because of the big gap between the top and the sub top. For good results you need a lot of time and money, something I did not have while I was studying and started working. Experience was not enough. After 5 years Greet and I we found a new goal for our free time: Snipe sailing. Cheap, Easy to sail, and easy to travel were our biggest motivation. During our snipe experience we found also something new. Something unique. Something you cannot find in a professional network. I call it: friendship. Also with the help of the digitalization, the world is closer. But we have all something in common. It’s the passion of Snipe sailing. The snipe has an excellent social network and has a unique exchange of friendship, ideas and experience. We made some friends, for life…thank you.
– 11) Your perfect sailing venue and your perfect sailing conditions?
We Belgians are travelers, It does not matter where, but we have 3 conditions; booze, fun and +15 degrees.
– 12) Besides sailing which other sport do you practice?
Hiking, skiing and want to start jogging and mountain biking (but have no mountains)
– 13) Are you superstitious?
Not anymore. When I was young I used to sail with the same underwear, every day,…
– 14) Your perfect holiday?
I enjoy spending time in the mountains with my wife and son. I like to see him doing his best going from the hills, and I laugh watching my wife because she is surprised how good our son is turning out, day by day. Also having a dinner in a high mountain chalet , …drinking some wine…on Saint valentine’s day,…Just perfect !