The International Snipe Class has a long history of which very few other classes can boast. The boat was designed by Bill Crosby in 1931 and 88 years later, 32000+ boats have been built with fleets in over 30 active nations.
It is a history of people, sailors, champions, enthusiasts, promoters, sailmakers, builders and organizers.
The past is strongly linked to the present: all the inductees have helped to promote and grow our Class in many countries and continents; many of these people are still strongly linked to the Class or have been, when they were alive, to form a large family, the Snipe Family, from great-grandparents to grandchildren.
For this reason, the “Snipe Class International Racing Association Hall of Fame” was created.
The SCIRA Hall of Fame honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the Snipe Class and Snipe competition.
The Class is honoring three categories: Sailing, Technical Design and Contributors, –people who made significant contributions to the Snipe Class.
SCIRA Commodore Pietro Fantoni stated: “I would like to thank who submitted the nominations and the Selection Committee, which comprised Luis Soubie, Vice Commodore (chairman), Gweneth Crook, WH&O Secretary, John Rose (USA), Andre Callot (BEL), Shinichi Uchida (JPN) and Junichiro Shiraishi (JPN), all members who know very well the history of our Class.
The Committee put a lot of effort and went through a tough and great job to select the list of ten individuals who have outstandingly contributed to the Snipe Class and Snipe regattas. It was very difficult for them to finalize and choose only ten names (for this first year) to make the list of inductees.
This first list is impressive. All of us Snipe sailors and friends of the Snipe Class – and I can add, friends of the sport of sailing – have to thank them and their families and celebrate their induction for their victories on the water, their contributions ashore and for how they promoted our beloved Class.
Kudos, homage and honors to William F. Crosby, Hub E. Isaacks, Ted Wells, Id Crook, Carlos & Jorge Vilar Castex, Axel & Erik Schmidt, Earl Elms, Jan Persson, Bibi Juetz and Gonzalo Diaz.
The Snipe Class is the one it is today also because of them.”
For this very first year a maximum of ten inductees were considered (eight next year and five from the year after).
The 2019 inductees are among those who have undoubtedly contributed to make the history of the Snipe Class.
Full bios and additional photos & videos can be viewed here
Gonzalo “Old Man” Diaz (USA)
Gonzalo “Old Man” Diaz was born in Havana, Cuba in 1930. In 1945 his father bought him his first Snipe boat (Rosi II #3686), and three years later he stepped up to El Almirante #4835, which was also built in Cuba. It was 1952 when he first took ownership of Jupiter, #10111, a US-built Snipe, which he later managed to “squeeze out of Cuba” when the family left in 1964. (The story of sailing his family to Florida on this Snipe is just one of many not-quite-true legends about Old Man.)
From his new home in Clearwater, Florida, he and the Diaz clan joined the local Snipe fleet and rarely missed a regatta. The family eventually settled in Miami, and all three kids grew up sailing Snipes and crewing for the Old Man. His long-time nickname is much more respectful in its original Spanish, “Viejo,” but that respect carries over to its usage by his many English-speaking friends.
He is justifiably proud of finishing fifth at the 1952 Midwinters against a cast of Snipe class legends, and he almost won the 1959 Worlds in Puerto Alegre, Brazil; instead the wind died and a race he was winning was cancelled, returning Paul Elvstrom to the top spot. (He and his crew/brother Saul Diaz finished second.) In 1975 Old Man finished second yet again (and won the last race), but this time as a crew for his son Augie. The two had decided to team up, and who would steer was determined by the better finish at that year’s Midwinters. It is a favorite tale of both men to this day.
Old Man thinks Augie also might have played a part in a 1954 victory of La regata de la Luna, a full-moon race in Havana, which Old Man sailed with his wife Carmen (who was pregnant with Augie). When a third generation of Diaz sailors began sailing Snipes, it made for a great story at the 1993 US Nationals: Lucas Diaz, then 13, was narrowly beaten by his grandfather for 12th place in the championship fleet.
Old Man has sailed more than 70 US National championships, owned countless Snipes, and—most importantly—inspired generations of sailors to join the class. He’s still taking people out on Biscayne Bay to show off his favorite class and sailing venue, and today he takes his rightful place in the Snipe Hall of Fame.
Bibi Juetz (BRA)
Bibi Juetz is probably the longest running female Snipe sailor. She always considered the Snipe class as her family.
Bibi started sailing with her father when she was 7 years old, and she never stopped, actively participating in all local, national and international regattas. She was the World Masters Champion in 1998. She went on winning the Grand Master Worlds in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006. She avidly competed in the Master Worlds until 2014 in Japan.
Always faithful to the serious sailing, serious fun class motto, she inspired several women to sail Snipes.
Axel and Erik Schmidt (BRA)
Axel and Erik Schmidt are pioneers of sailing in Brazil. Twins born in Rio de Janeiro on April 30, 1939 from a Danish father, also a sailor.
In the Snipe class the “Sea Twins” founded the 477 Snipe Fleet and started what became a longstanding tradition of Brazilians winning the Snipe Worlds. They conquered the Hub Isaacs Trophy three times in a row: in Rye, New York (1961), Bandol, France (1963) and Canary Islands (1965). After that, Brazil went on winning world titles another 11 times, two of which conquered by their nephew, Torben Grael.
The Schmidt brothers are the only Snipe sailors to win the Worlds three times in a row. They inspired several generations of Snipes sailors that followed in their family as well as in Brazil.
Axel left us and went on sailing on higher seas on June 10th 2018.
Carlos Vilar Castex (1930-) and Jorge Vilar Castex (1931-2014) (ARG)
Carlos and Jorge Vilar Castex sailed Snipes together from 1947 to 1957.
They were both architects, and lived their whole life in San Isidro, Buenos Aires, Argentina, being members of the beautiful and historic Club Nautico San Isidro.
They learned to sail with their father at 6 years old, on a homemade wooden dinghy. The brothers were often “left alone” on the tricky Rio de la Plata at the very early age of 9 years old. They developed by themselves such a love and technique for sailing, that when they tried a Snipe for the first time in 1947, they were very soon Argentinian National Champions (held since 1937) that same year at the age of 17and 16, defeating sailors with more than a decade of Snipe sailing experience.
After this, they repeated 6 National titles in a row, from 1947 to 1952, and won again in 1957. Most of them with their historic snipe “Pamperito” #7165, built by Gutierrez & Peralta under the brothers fathers request. This boat was just a few years ago restored by the Club Nautico San Isidro and is displayed today at the Club in the very same place where it was built (now the club informal restaurant and bar).
When they both married and graduated they had to stop sailing, leaving behind an amazing and unique in terms of effectiveness, career were they won almost everything there was to be won.
They raced internationally in only 5 regattas in their life, with amazing results, being World Champions in their first international regatta, after only one year of Snipe sailing, at ages 18 and 17, in the second Worlds held outside the U.S., in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, in 1948.
They travelled the following year to Larchmont, N.Y., in 1949 to finish second behind the great Ted Wells, losing the regatta in the last race.
In the 50´s the Worlds began to be held every two years, and they won the title again in 1951 in Havana, Cuba, and finished 5th in the 1953 Worlds in Monaco where their new boat they shipped from Argentina had many problems.
In addition, in 1951 they were Gold Medalist at the very first Pan Am Games held in Buenos Aires.
Funny and really unique fact is that the brothers shared the helm all their career, exchanging positions every year. That is why Carlos won 4 Nationals as skipper and 3 crewing and Jorge viceversa. At International events, Carlos helmed to win 1948 Worlds and Jorge did then followed winning in ’51 and ´53.
A few decades later in the 70´s Carlos started building the world famous “Vilar Castex” Snipes that won many regattas internationally and were one of the first fiberglass Snipes made in South America.
Carlos Vilar Castex won in 1980 the “diamond Konex” award, the most important Argentine distinction, for his contribution to the national sports.
In 2015 Carlos and Jorge were the first sailors to received the “ARG snipe Hall of Fame” award created that year for the Argentinian SCIRA.
Also, in 2019 he was declared “Ilustrious Citizen of San Isidro”.
Jorge Vilar Castex sadly passed away in 2014, but Carlos continues to support sailing to this day, following every regatta on Facebook and SnipeToday, and being present in person in every National or International regatta prizegiving ceremony that takes place in Buenos Aire. It is a special honor for the currently active Snipe sailors to receive cups and medals from him in those events.
After Carlos and Jorge Vilar Castex, Argentina has had many more great Snipe sailors, many of them also Champions, but Carlos and Jorge opened the path for us all in Argentina and South America, proving to the whole continent 70 years ago that distance and lack of materials and information were not obstacles to succeed and be the very best in the world.
Only talent and dedication is needed. They have this in abundance and this is why they received this award from us today.
Earl Elms (USA)
A person is not defined by their accomplishments, but if they were, Earl was a god. He had the Midas touch in any boat, but his reputation was deepest in the Snipe class. Earl started sailing Snipes in Mission Bay, CA where he won four national championship trophies before 1963 when he got out of the Navy.
He won the Snipe U.S. Nationals for five consecutive years (1966-70), adding a sixth title in 1972. During that span, he was runner-up at the Snipe World Championship in 1967, then took the title at the next two Snipe Worlds (1969, 71) and fourth in 1973.
“Earl is quite possibly the most natural sailor I have ever crewed for, or competed against,” said Dave Ullman.
But Earl wasn’t just about winning; he was about making. The DNA of the modern Snipe is that of Earl. He helped to create, along with Herb Shear, the Chubasco Snipe. Not only was he influential with hull design but with Elms Sails and Cobra Masts, he continued to move the class forward.
Earl was also known for not just developing the boat but also the people. He had a philosophy that you needed to help your competitors to become better sailors so that you could become better yourself. Many a young San Diego sailor starting by crewing for Earl or learning from him.
Id Crook said Earl Elms invented kinetics in the Snipe class. When Earl was going downwind having a beer, he would raise the beer up to drink it, leaning his body out over the side. Then Earl would lower the beer and lean in. And the cycle would continue. He was always willing to share his knowledge and help you with your boat, so long as you repaid him with a beer.
Hub E. Isaacks (1902-1988) (USA)
Hub Isaacks was a medical doctor in Fort Worth Texas. He was also a sail boater, who built his own wooden Snipe #9 in 1931-32, following the plans for Snipe as published in the July 1931 issue of The Rudder magazine.
Beyond that, he was a supporter of other like-minded sailors in the Dallas Texas area who, with his inspiration, joined together and chartered the first Snipe fleet of the newly formed Snipe Class International Racing Association (SCIRA) -– Snipe Fleet #1, located on White Rock Lake in Dallas. He became a great friend of Snipe designer Bill Crosby and other top caliber sailors in the area, including good friend George McGown. The Snipe owners in the USA selected Isaacks to be the first Commodore of SCIRA in 1933. Isaacks helped Crosby and others prepare the first Snipe annual yearbook, consisting of the class constitution and by-laws, and outlining the Snipe point score system for Snipe fleets to use in racing and reporting season ranking results.
Isaacks raced in midwestern Snipe regattas from those early years in the 1930s until the mid-1950s. He bought two newer wooden Snipes in 1940 and 1948 to keep current with the competition, these boats also used the re-assigned #9 per agreement with Crosby. [One of these two boats was modernized and competed for a few races in the 2007 Snipe US National Championship.]
However, in the early 1950s, use of fiberglass for boat construction was becoming popular in the USA, and Isaacks realized that the Snipe class had to modernize the rules to allow fiberglass (and plywood) for hull construction, as well as for decks. So he built the first all- fiberglass Snipe (hull and deck), using the latest of his wooden Snipes as the “plug” for the molds for the hull and deck. This project was undertaken with reluctant agreement of the SCIRA Rules Committee, with the understanding that the boat could only compete informally in racing. Since it was an unofficial Snipe, it was numbered “X-9” and raced for several seasons by Isaacks, displaying that it was neither faster or slower than the conventional wooden Snipes. [ Snipe #X-9 still exists and was built with features such as forward and aft sealed floatation tanks, bonded integrally with the hull and deck, resulting in a stiff hull, comparable to wooden Snipes, and is still structurally sound.] This boat is the “grand-daddy” of all 20,000+ fiberglass Snipes built since the Snipe rules were revised in 1954 to allow fiberglass and plywood for hull construction. The first builders of production fiberglass Snipes were Francis Lofland in the USA, and Ole Botved in Denmark.
Isaacks donated the SCIRA trophy for the winning Snipe in the Snipe International Championship, first sailed in 1934. The first two winners of that series were from Texas Snipe fleets. The first truly international competition was in the 1946 event, and beginning in 1947 the event was held in other countries besides the USA.
Isaacks also donated the SCIRA trophy for the winning Snipe in the Southwestern Snipe Championship, held in Texas venues and it is SCIRA’s oldest district trophy. Isaacks won the event in 1948.
Isaacks also enjoyed racing larger sailing yachts and competed in the annual St. Petersburg Florida to Havana Cuba yacht race, chartering the famous Herreshoff 72-foot ketch “Ticonderoga” with a crew of Texas sailors and winning first-to-finish (and first to party) on three occasions.
In 1988, Isaacks was presented with an annual trophy awarded by the US Yacht Racing Union, symbolic of the American sailor who best exemplifies the tradition and ideals of sportsmanship.
In late 1988, Isaacks passed away at the age of 86. He is survived by two daughters, Janet (Isaacks) Cornwall of Corvallis Oregon and Margo Isaacks of Houston Texas.
Jan Persson (DEN)
Snipe sailor and boat builder Jan Persson, from Denmark, has been elected to the 2019 Snipe Hall of Fame. Born in Copenhagen and moved to Espegarde when he was a child; he was offered an Optimist to sail and went out and won the race. He stared to crew for different Snipe sailors and decided he enjoyed it.
In 1957 he and a good friend built a wooden Snipe 10296, in which they sailed and won some races. In 1961 he sailed in one of the first fiberglass boats built by Paul Elvstrom and Peer Bruun. 1964 he sailed in the first Skippersnipe and had some success winning the 1965 Danish Championships and came in 7th at the World Championship in Las Palmas, Spain.
Jan started working at Skippersnipe as an assistant in the production, testing and design. In 1971 he moved to Malaga to build a Peers Bruun designed boat called a Flipper. While in Spain he built a Snipe mold based on a wooden boat and sold 20 of these Persson Snipes. Jan found he could not make a living from building boats and he moved back to Denmark and away from the Snipe Class. He crewed for Paul Elvstrom in the Soiling; and sailed Tempests and big boats in regattas such as Kings Cup, Sardinia Cup, Admirals Cup, Kiel Week and many others.
When his son expressed an interest in sailing in 1982 Jan got back into the Snipe. His son was having difficulty managing the whisker pole and they tried many solutions which resulted in the Persson whisker pole system which people are still using today.
Jan continued to compete and travel with the Skippersnipe but found that there were many things he wanted to change with the boat design. Knowing that the Skippersnipe company was for sale and having his friend Jerry Thompson pay upfront for a new boat Jan was able to buy the company and start PerssonSnipe. He used one of the boats he built in Spain and modified it to make the first set of molds for the modern PerssonSnipe which had its debut in San Remo in 1990. In 1993 Santiago Lange won the Snipe Worlds using a Persson Snipe, there have been many other Championships won since then.
The life of a boat builder is not an easy one. There are many kilometers on the road, ensuring the boat meets the measurement regulations of the Class and making a boat that wins. Jan sailed at as many regattas as possible all over the world. He specially built a small truck with a long bed for 3 Snipes and then a trailer for 4 more; which meant he was driving all over Europe with as many as 7 Snipes at a time. While he was travelling to regattas and selling PerssonSnipes Jan admits he was lucky to have a fantastic fiberglass man Carsten Florin who steadily made 1 Snipe a week that Jan had to mount fittings on and sell.
Jan could not have accomplished all he has done without the support of his wife, crew and travelling companion Jane. Jane had never sailed before but was willing to give it a try. Jan is known throughout the Snipe world as he travelled extensively and was at the major Championships to repair and fix boats if there were any problems. Jan was always willing to help, Gweneth Crook says “My participation in the 1999 World Championship in Santiago de la Ribera would not have been possible without all the work, in difficult conditions, Jan did get my charter boat competition ready. Thank you, Jan.”
In 2003 Jan sold PerssonSnipe to Daniela and Enrico who have the headquarters in Trieste, Italy.
Although he sold the company he was not done with the Snipe. In 2012 the production of the Minimax boom started. The boom was lightweight and had room for the shock cord for the Persson whisker pole system. In 2013 there was the production of the “teardrop” mast with new adjustable spreaders. In 2014 Jan bought Sidewinder Mast including the rights, tools and a big oven that was essential for production. In 2016, due to health concerns, Jan sold the boom and mast production to Belgian Snipe sailors.
We hope that Jan is not finished with the Snipe Class and his many friends will see him again at a future regatta.
Id Crook (CAN)
Id Crook was a serious sailor who knew how to have serious fun. His friend John Johns said “Here’s some of what I know about Id. He loved beer. He hated Labatts. He loved boats. He lived for the Snipe Class. He hated pretension. He looked smart in a blue blazer, Bermuda shorts and knee socks. Despite his oft-heard, “Mutha, CFD”, his devotion to his wife Anne was lifelong and unending. He and his daughter Gweneth sailed together for years. He couldn’t swim. He had a good friend in every corner of the world. He set a damn good race course. He was someone you could count on. Always the guy at the hoist taking your bow line, he was ready to assist with a sly grin and smart-ass comment that seemed to put things in perspective. He loved a good time. He LOVED a good time. He was a true and loyal friend, the best ever.”
Id started sailing in Beaumaris, Wales when he was a young boy. He met his wife Anne, from England, at the Menai Straits Regatta. They married in the spring of 1954 and immediately emigrated to Canada. The summer of 1954 they found a Snipe fleet in Oakville, Ontario and bought a boat. This began a lifelong love affair with the Snipe Class for both Id and Anne.
Id was always the crew, starting with his wife Anne, he also crewed for Howie Richards, Bent Poulson and his daughter Gweneth. He traveled to Snipe regattas all over the world, he was a fierce competitor in his day, he represented Canada in then 1971 Pan Am Games in Columbia.
He was known to encourage young Canadian sailors to try the Snipe, always willing to lend his boat or double deck trailer them to a regatta. There are many a story to be told of driving the younger crews and the fun that was had.
Id attended the first World Masters in Atlanta in 1986 and saw this as a great combination of the “serious sailing, serious fun” motto of the class. He organized the 1989 World Masters in Oakville. The World Masters allowed the older Snipe sailor to continue to participate on a global level and be active in the class. The Snipe World Masters Championship did not have a Deed of Gift, so Id wrote one on behalf of SCIRA Canada. He attended 10 World Masters between 1986 and 2006. He was the biggest cheerleader for the Championship, always encouraging fellow Snipe sailors to attend.
Id was the Canadian SCIRA National Secretary for many years. He was on the SCIRA Board as Secretary General of the Western Hemisphere and Orient, Vice Commodore, and Commodore in 2000. He was also the Commodore of the Oakville Yacht Squadron and the Oakville Harbour Yacht Club.
When he got a little older Id continued to be active in the Snipe class as a PRO, at such events as the Bacardi/Gamblin/Kelly in Nassau, Bermuda International Race Week, and Canadian Snipe Nationals. He was also a Jury member at numerous regattas including the 1989 Worlds in Karatsu, Japan. Id loved the Snipe Class and would have been humbled by this honour.
Theodore A. (“Ted”) Wells (1907-1991) (USA)
Ted Wells was well-known to Snipe sailors in the USA. He began sailing Snipes in 1938 in Wichita Kansas, after early beginnings of racing airplanes around pilons in competition – which his wife Marjorie (Marge) considered too dangerous for him to continue. By that time, Wells was chief engineer and co-founder of Beech Aircraft Company in Wichita. Wells designed several of the top models of airplanes marketed by Beech and before that by another aircraft company.
Because of his technical and college background as an aircraft engineer and pilot, he approached the world of Snipe sailing with a calculated mind to be competitive at the highest level. He started with wooden Snipes and after WW II, he bought a new Snipe #6025 “Good News III” from a top west coast Snipe builder and won many championships, regional and national with that boat [which is now in the collection of the Mystic Seaport at Mystic Connecticut]. Wells victories include the 1947, 1949 and 1952 Snipe US National Championships, the 1947 and 1949 Snipe Worlds Championships, and six-time winner of the Snipe Midwinter Championship in Florida between 1948-1957. Over the years. Wells owned 10 Snipes, all named “Good News” (from I to X), and all with hull numbers ending with “025.”
Wells was consultant along with Harold Gilreath, John Rix, and Francis Lofland to build the molds for the first production fiberglass Snipes in 1954 by Lofland in Wichita Kansas.
Wells was SCIRA Commodore in 1954 and for years was Chairman of the SCIRA Rules Committee. He was a regular contributor to a column “Wells Wanderings” in the monthly Snipe Bulletin, and authored a book “Scientific Sailboat Racing” in 1950 which guided many Snipe owners on the latest technical advancements of the time to make a Snipe competitive, as well as a detailed discourse on racing tactics to improve sailor’s competitive skills.
In 1952, Wells donated an annual SCIRA trophy for the winner of the “consolation” Wells Division when the fleet became too large to fairly compete in one large group. Typically the Wells Division was used when the competitor fleet was more than about 50 boats.
Wells final Snipe racing competition was at the age of 79, when he competed in the 1986 Snipe Worlds Master Championship. As a final gesture of his love for racing Snipes and generosity to SCIRA, he donated his last Snipe #25025 to the SCIRA Perpetual Fund to be used as a fund raiser for the class.
Wells passed away in Florida in 1991, at the age of 84. A complete and detailed biography of Wells life, both in the aviation field and in sailboat racing, is published in a soft cover book “Master of the Sky and Sea – The Story of Ted Wells”, authored by Wichita Snipe sailor and historian James Rix.
William F. Crosby (1891-1953) (USA)
Bill Crosby is the “father” of the Snipe class. He was a naval architect and took over as Editor of The Rudder magazine in 1928, after the founder and original Editor of that monthly magazine passed away. Issues of The Rudder often featured boat designs by Crosby, but the most popular design was the Snipe one-design racing sailboat which was published in the July 1931 issue of The Rudder.
Crosby had Snipe #3 “Snipe” built for his own use at the famous Minneford Yacht Yard in New York City. He raced that boat on Long Island Sound and helped many Snipe fleets develop in that area, In 1939, He ordered a new Snipe #4000 “Also” built by Dunphy Boat Co. in Oshkosh Wisconsin to the latest specifications for a fast boat at the time.
During this time, Crosby authored a monthly column in The Rudder magazine for the Snipe class, as well as acting as Executive Secretary of the Snipe Class International Racing Association (SCIRA) from its official formation in late 1932. Crosby, with the help of other influential Snipe enthusiasts including Hub Isaacks, George McGown, Harry Lund, John T. Hayward and Ted Wells, developed over the years the original Snipe scoring system for racing, the SCIRA Measurement Data Sheet (MDS) and updates approved by the Board of Governors and Technical Committees, the annual Snipe Rule Book, and many Snipe trophy Deeds of Gift. In 1940, Crosby authored a book “Racing Small Boats” which described Snipe sailing experiences in detail during the 1939 racing season on Long island Sound, and presented analysis of racing tactics to educate Snipe sailors old and new to improve their sailing skills.
In 1941, Crosby left as Editor of The Rudder magazine and also as Executive Secretary of the Snipe class, taking a position as naval architect for a boat building company in Florida as part of the war effort to help the US Navy. Others in the Snipe class handled organization matters during these years.
After WW II, Crosby again returned to his favorite Snipe class activities in 1945, and started a new sailing publication “Jib Sheet” as Editor, as well as taking up his position again as Executive Secretary of SCIRA. He continued in these activities during the next eight years, including starting the popular “Snipe Bulletin” in mid-1951 as Editor. During these years, he also served as Editor for another national boating magazine. All Snipe correspondence, nationally and internationally, was handled by typed letters, telegrams and telephone calls by Crosby himself – no computers or internet connections or spread sheets. All hull registrations were hand-documented on individual owner cards and MDS forms which are now maintained in the archives of the SCIRA headquarter office.
Crosby passed away unexpectedly in August 1953 at the age of 62. SCIRA reserved Snipe hull registration #10,000 “SCIRA” as a tribute to Crosby and had a Snipe half model hull wall plaque made, bearing that number and presented to Crosby’s long-time wife Edna Crosby, in his memory. Edna Crosby continued to honor her husband’s work and the Snipe class until her passing in 1986 at age 95.