Fleet 495, San Diego, CA, USA
By Don Bedford
Started by Herbie Shear back in the early 1960s, Fleet 495 (then the Mission Bay Snipe Fleet) began with a few wood Snipes built by Carl Eichenlaub. The fleet quickly grew attracting some of the best sailors around. Homed on Mission Bay, San Diego it was a perfect place to practice and race Snipes. Soon sailors like Earl Elms, Jeff Lenhart, Tom Nute, and Doug De Souza were traveling to the US Nationals and the Southern Circuit representing San Diego. These sailors quickly gained recognition with wins at the US Nationals, Western Hemisphere’s, Pan American Games and World championships.
Today, the fleet is made-up of sailors from all the yacht clubs in San Diego. There are approximately 50 boats in the fleet with about 30 sailors who get out at least once a year. While the fleet has two major annual regattas each year, the Carolyn Nute Memorial and the Herb Shear Memorial, they also started the infamous 24 Hour / GFU regatta back in 1980. These regattas usually attract 30+ boats for sailing on the bay or in the Pacific Ocean. The fleet has also been active in promoting women’s sailing with the All Girl Sail Jam for women & girls to sail Snipes or any other boat of their choosing.
One major benefit to the members of fleet 495 is that there is more to do that just sail Snipes. Bob Bowden’s annual golf tournament is held each year in January and gets first-time golfers and handicappers out playing each other. At the end of the day all return back to the yacht club for the usual “putt-off” on the carpet to settle the ties. Other activities such as a trip to the Del Mar hours race track or a day on the beach surfing or playing Over The Line (a San Diego beach game) also keeps the social engagement high.
The fleet also holds “meetings” at member’s homes each month where the barbecue is fired-up for cooking dinner, the kids are running around in the yards, and fleet members chat and even plan for up-coming regattas. A Spaghetti Dinner meeting is held each November to elect new officers and get volunteer sign-ups and the following month’s Holiday dinner is strictly a party with a visit by Santa Claus to spread cheer to all the good (big and) little Snipers.
Many younger sailors from San Diego are attracted to the fleet as well. Fleet members often pick-up young crews and loan out boats for weekend races and regattas. Clinics are held to help the young and old with rigging, crew work, and boat speed to keep everyone doing as well as possible on the race course. After the races, you will see fleet members freely sharing information, engaging new (and potential) fleet members and doing anything needed to attract and grow the fleet.
Fleet information can be found by entering “Fleet 495” in Facebook or www.egroups.com. The fleet keeps their Google Calendar up-to-date and if class members visit San Diego, they should come join in on the fun as sailing goes on year-round in sunny San Diego!
- History of the fleet: When the fleet was founded? Most important sailors and fleet captains
- Where is it located? Where do you sail (Racing area)?
- How many boats and sailors? Who are they?
- Which regattas has the fleet held in the past? Are there annual regattas or events?
- Social events: does the fleet organize parties, dinners, clinics, promotional events etc.? Do you have a site, a mailing list or a FB page?
- Programs or ideas for the next future
- Also, please send photos