[caption id="attachment_4714" align="alignnone" width=""]Augie Diaz & Pam Kelly (2005 Worlds in Japan)[/caption](Interview originally published on snipe.it, August 2005) First I should say that I feel very fortunate to have won the Worlds, and when I said this to a Japanese newspaper reporter, he asked why I thought I had been lucky to win since I was the #1 Snipe sailor in the world; I responded that there was no such thing as the #1 Snipe sailor in the world and that if there was, it was not me. He insisted and then I told him that two weeks before the Worlds we had finished 4th in the US Nationals, then he understood. There were so many good sailors at the Worlds that could have won, and this is what makes the Snipe class so great and so much fun.
(Interview originally published on snipe.it, August 2005)
First I should say that I feel very fortunate to have won the Worlds, and when I said this to a Japanese newspaper reporter, he asked why I thought I had been lucky to win since I was the #1 Snipe sailor in the world; I responded that there was no such thing as the #1 Snipe sailor in the world and that if there was, it was not me. He insisted and then I told him that two weeks before the Worlds we had finished 4th in the US Nationals, then he understood. There were so many good sailors at the Worlds that could have won, and this is what makes the Snipe class so great and so much fun.
– How did you prepare this Worlds Championship? How long did you train in Snipe?
I sail Snipes year round and I raced Snipes as much as I could this year. I went to Sanremo and Valencia this spring and although they were difficult trips, they were very helpful. I did not sail with Pam at all this year until right before the Worlds because she has two young children, a husband that she does a lot of other fun stuff with and she works. But I have sailed with Pam in the past and I am very comfortable in the boat with her. Pam is a very capable sailor herself (second as skipper in the Snipe Women’s Worlds), she matches my intensity and complements me in my many areas of weakness. In the training we did for the Worlds, we worked on both speed and maneuvers and it is the very high level of the sailors in our fleet that we practiced against that really helped us prepare. We sailed against Gonzalo Crivello/Lynn Fitzpatrick, Ernesto Rodriguez/Leandro Spina, Peter Commette/Sheehan Commette, Gonzo Diaz and Old Man Diaz. Sailing other boats does help me , but it is more important to sail Snipes. We did not use a coach during our training. Leading up to the Worlds between work and sailing, I really didn’t have time for physical training, I walked a lot and played basketball with my sons and their friends.
– In Japan did you (and U.S. Team) have a coach or a local expert? Before and after the race did you have a meeting with the team about weather condition, strategic consideration etc…?
Our coach at the Worlds was Shinichi Uchida (and wife Michiko) and they were very helpful. They were not from Gamagori, but they had local knowledge. But I am against coach boats on the water, I feel all coaches should be on one Race Committee designated boat. We had a meeting in the morning and debriefing after the races to discuss weather, conditions, strategy, etc. With the regatta being compressed because of the typhoon, we did not get that much discussion.
– Your boat was sent from Italy. Did you have a collaboration with Enrico Michel about specific request, parts, modification, rigging …?
Yes, Enrico and Jan Persson built us a boat with the same layout as the Persson I have at home and the boat was very fast. The interesting thing is that both Szabo and I got new boats from Enrico and in both cases we were able to transfer all our settings from our Perssons at home and everything fit perfect.
– Which sails did you use for the Worlds?
I used Quantum main and jib at the Worlds and had great speed. I have used the standard Olimpic main and it is also a fast sail.
– Many sailors (especcially in Italy) spend a lot of time measuring the rake, tension etc. You are also a Laser sailor. Tuning or boathandling? What do you think?
Both tuning and boathandling are important in the Snipe. Measuring your rake and tension are more important when you are using a tight rig like I am using now, so I make sure I know where I am at for the given conditions. Using a less tension is more forgiving and not as critical to know exactly where you are. With a looser rig you can maintain more consistent speed. I donot have secret numbers, I start off with the Quantum tuning guide and make adjustments from there. At the Worlds I sailed tighter than the Quantum guide from 18 to 22 on the black loose gauge.
– Which was the most important factor for winning the Worlds in Japan?
At the 2003 Worlds, we sailed our throw out in the second race and our strategy for these Worlds was to avoid this by being conservative and consistent at the beginning. This was super important since we ended up not having a throw out and because the fleet was so deep and competitive. We did have great and consistent speed and you know that solves a lot of problems. Pam and I did get to practice before the Worlds a bit and our boathadling was very good. Although I sail with a lot of intensity, at my advanced age and because of my experience, I am sailing for fun and this allows me to sail very relaxed and without pressure. Pam matches my intensity, but also sails very relaxed. It is hard to say a percentage, but I would guess: 40% luck (we were very lucky that we did not sail a throw out early and that there was no throw out), 30% speed, 10% maneuvers, 10% strategy, 10% head (9% Pam; 1% Augie) and another 10% luck!
– Do you have some person to dedicate the victory?
Clearly my Father deserves a lot of credit for the success that I have had and really the most rewarding thing about winning the World Championship is the joy that I know it brings to him. But I have a group that supports me which I call my “unfair advantage”. There is my Mother and Father. Then, my Brother Gonzo- he is a very capable individual who organizes our business and many aspects of my life, not just my sailing. Then there is my girlfriend Coni, my cousin Saul and his wife Consuelo; the list goes on! I should also thank Jan Persson and Enrico Michel, their support and dedication to building fast boats were very important factors in our success at the Worlds.
– Which are your programs for the future? Do you think to race in Europe and in Italy in the future?
My future programs are to continue sailing Snipe, Star and Laser. I love sailing in Italy and Spain so I hope to come back soon. I feel very much at home in Italy, I love Italy, I love the people, I love the food, I love the good competition and I hope to some day be considered an honorary Italian! ARRIVEDERCI