Editor’s Note: Alan Capellin is a multi-regatta winning Snipe crew with a variety of skippers. This past weekend, he stepped into a new role as forward teammate for his daughter Darby.
This past weekend I sailed one of the best regattas ever, the Florida State Championship. It reconfirmed why I love sailing Snipes. There are very few classes where I can jump in for a weekend and compete against World, National, North American and Olympic champions, top level college sailors, and just down right great people.
On a quick count ten teams could have won the regatta. Very, very few classes can make that claim at a state level event!
But that’s not why it was my best regatta ever. It wasn’t the sailing conditions, the talent level, or the venue; it was crewing for my 16-year-old daughter, Darby. I have had my own success crewing, and it is human nature to equate success with fun—it is fun to win. So after an 11th place finish I would usually go home disappointed, and spend the next few days trying to figure out why we didn’t win. Instead I’m trying to figure out whether I ever had more fun than helping my daughter get a mid-fleet finish.
Darby has always liked sailing, but I haven’t seen her compete really hard until this weekend. And she had a blast! Sailing against the talent at this event was amazing on its own but to see her compete, at 16, that hard and that well at this event is unforgettable.
Now I admit, we had ideal conditions, sailing at 240 lbs. in way less than 8 knots of breeze. But Darby could’ve been intimidated, and she wasn’t. She dug deep, and matched pace with some of the best Snipe sailors in the country. That’s always fun, but watching her learn from the top sailors makes all the years I’ve been sailing the Snipe worthwhile.
Saturday’s four races gave her a chance to make mistakes and then learn from them, which shows in our finishes (16,17, 8, 7). On Sunday, while we were all sitting around waiting for wind, Darby had a chance to interact and talk with other sailors like Augie Diaz, Peter Commette, Carol Cronin, Nick Voss, Ernesto Rodriguez, and Hal Gilreath. My daughter was grown up enough to understand how much she could learn and still young enough to be the perfect sponge.
If it were blowing harder, would we have finished just out of the top ten? Maybe not. But even with different conditions, I still would’ve watched my favorite class support my daughter. Snipe sailors are not just great sailors and great people; they are family to me. I’m glad I had the chance to introduce Darby to our extended family, at an event that combined serious sailing and serious fun for me with serious learning for her.
Read Darby’s perspective, Learning from My Crew (I Call Him Dad)