Ever since I joined the Snipe class in 1990, Fleet 495 in San Diego, CA has been a stronghold of both Serious Sailing and Serious Fun. I’ve made the trek across the USA several times for big events: US Nationals. Worlds. Western Hemispheres. This past weekend, I happened to be in town for one of their most famous “small” events: the Las Vegas Regatta on Mission Bay.
The event first started as a casual way for teams to tune up for the upcoming season, which for a few lucky locals includes a cross-country trip in March for Florida’s Midwinter Circuit. The name came from the casino/fundraiser that was traditionally held on Saturday night.
Like many events, the Las Vegas Regatta has evolved, and the 2017 event didn’t include the casino fundraiser. It did include a lot of tuning and learning opportunities, no matter where you were in the fleet. The flat water and enclosed basin of Mission Bay makes any flaw in boathandling instantly visible, especially since there are always boats ready to take advantage of any mistake. Mark roundings are tight on the short courses, and since the sail to and from the beach is so short, we fit in seven races in just a few hours of sailing. We also saw the perfect range of wind speed, thanks to a narrow sun-filled window between incoming low pressure systems.
Unfortunately Sunday was washed out and blown out by one of the biggest storms to hit San Diego in local memory, but even for this farthest traveled skipper (by about 2900 miles), even one day of sailing was worth the trip. I caught up with Snipe friends (new and old) and refreshed my memory on tuning and trim, which will help a lot when I step back into my own boat again in a few weeks.
(And if anyone is looking for a fast ready-to-sail Snipe, I can highly recommend Randy Lake’s second boat.)
Snipe sailing poses a completely different set of challenges in the small enclosed playpen of Mission Bay. Starts, clean roundings, and picking the correct side were all rewarded. But so was just getting out sailing, at least for this winter escapee.