By Luis Soubié
A few months ago, on April 21st 2013, I had my first 25 years in the class.
I still remember that day of 1988 like it was yesterday, because it was my father’s 60th birthday.
I had finished sailing Cadets in August 1987 and didn’t sail for several months because I was too old for Cadets and had no new boat. I had repeatedly asked my parents for a Snipe but they were too expensive in Argentina and the economic situation at home was not very good.
That April 21st, my father didn’t work for the first time in 4 decades, and asked me to accompany him to Rosario (200 miles away), to buy his birthday present, an old wooden sailboat that had not been used for several years.
When we arrived at the Yacht Club Rosario, we found a guy who was working on an old and dusty wooden Snipe.
While my father went with him to the bar, I climbed quietly onto the boat and pretended to sail it for a while, checking and touching everything. (It sounds stupid today, but at the time, I really didn’t had a clue of what was going on….)
I hiked on it until that old strap cut loose and I fell to the grass.
I knew little about the Snipe and never sailed one before, but I knew enough to know that the number 12103 engraved on the keel could only mean that it was a Lineburger 58 or 59. At that time, those were the best boats in the world.
For half an hour I stayed near the boat, dreaming of having one just like this one some day, and imagining how it could be, once repaired and rigged well.
When my father returned, I asked him when we could see his gift because it was getting late and we had to drive another 4 hours.
With a proud smile he replied to me: “You’re looking at it, let’s put it on the car somehow and go home.”
Before that day, my dad didn’t know what a Snipe looked like or how much it weighed. I think he was expecting something the size of a large Optimist or Laser at best, so we were not prepared.
So, with tears in my eyes, we put my “JAPAO” on the roof of a yellow 1979 Toyota Celica and drove the 200 miles back home at 40 mph, a full Snipe on the roof, with mast, boom and a small trailer on top of it.
I trained on this old boat, with wooden boom, old Hood sails, and the centerboard trunk up to the deck, every day for two months. In July I qualified for the 1988 Junior Worlds in St. Petersburg, where I finished 3rd.
My romance with the class started that year and never stopped.
Since then, several times I walked away for a few years but always came back. I sailed on all types of boats but none gave me what the Snipe Class did.
Today I see many new kind of boats, very exciting I admit, but I have not found yet a boat that gives me a similar sensation.
No boat puts together the physical, technical, and tactical so perfectly for me as the Snipe, or provides such a wide range of ages and weights to enjoy it, not being a professional.
I hope that together we can keep and improve the class to make it grow and persist in time, and maybe in 17 years, I can take my son Santiago with me on November 6 2030, to buy my birthday present.