By Gweneth Crook, General Secretary – Western Hempisphere & Orient.
There was a lot of discussion at the Id Crook Memorial Snipe World Masters regarding the recent decision by the Board of SCIRA to increase the age of participation to 50. I will share that after asking for feedback from National Secretaries in my region I did vote in favour of this motion. After the discussion in Spain my mind has been changed, now I am asking what you think.
I am prepared to make a motion to the Board to keep the age at 45. I am asking for some feedback, so I am sharing my thoughts on Snipe Today.
Many of our Snipe regattas are looking to increase participation, such as the motion to open the European Championship. The World Masters, in Spain, had 77 participants 53% of those were in the Apprentice Master category age 45-54 years old. It was a great success. I am concerned about the impact the age change will have on the regatta and its future success.
Countries such as Belgium are concerned that they will lose the opportunity to attract new sailors to the class if the age is increased. Belgium’s argument is that when a sailor is finished sailing with other boats such as the Olympic classes they look to the Snipe. One of the arguments they use is that anyone can participate in the Snipe World Masters once they reach 45.
It is being said that people are healthier and living longer and we should raise the age of participation to 50 for the skipper. Recently I had one sailors say that at the age of 40 his body was feeling the demands of racing the snipe at a high competitive level and he was disappointed that he would have to wait another 10 years to sail at the World Masters.
If changing the age is an attempt to level the playing field for all participants I wonder if there aren’t other ways to do this. One of the suggestions in Spain was that the scoring be handicapped; for example an Apprentice Master would have an additional 3 points added to his score for a race, A Master might have 2 points added and a Grand Master would have no points added. I believe this is what happens at the Laser Masters? Do people have other suggestions?
When this regatta was started it was an attempt to bring snipe sailors together to renew old friendships and make new ones. Yes, the racing is important, but the philosophy behind this event is that the socializing is as, if not more, important. My Father was a firm believer in the “Serious Fun” aspect of the Snipe class and the World Masters is the regatta that exemplifies this.
I look forward to hearing what others think.