14 Questions to … Charlie Bess

Charlie Bess, a talented and passionate young sailor from Miami. Read her interesting answers: very clear ideas on what the Snipe Class represents for her.

– 1) Your first time on a sailing boat?  

My parents bought a sailboat to live on when I was about 14 years old.  The funny part was that they didn’t know how to sail so they put me in Coral Reef Yacht Club’s summer camp to learn with the hopes that I would teach them.  So I learned when I was 14 and haven’t stopped since!

– 2) Your first time on a Snipe?  

My first time on a Snipe was the spring of 2010, a few months after learning how to sail.  Augie and Kathleen coordinated a Snipe clinic with the junior program at CRYC where adults who owned snipes were paired with a sailor in the C420 program. I sailed with Mike Danish, whose boat my family now owns.

– 3) The most bizarre thing that happened in a regatta?  

This is easy, I was sailing in Rio at the 2013 Snipe  Junior Worlds.  We were sailing downwind in about 8-10 knots of breeze when we came to an immediate stop.  I had sailed directly into a massive “island” of seaweed/debris.  My crew Pere Puig frantically tried to clear the daggerboard with no luck.  We ended up having to take the pole down in the middle of the run, sail upwind and around the “island” and back downwind again.  Needless to say it was a big lesson in current convergence zones and keeping our heads out of the boat more.

– 4) What is the thing that most angers you in a race/regatta?

People losing their tempers.  I sail because I love it, nothing more.  I am fortunate enough to have had great coaches and the opportunity to learn from amazing sailors having grown up in Miami. I think no matter what level you’re sailing at, if you’re not having fun then you are wasting your time.  When people are shouting while going around the race course (whether it is directed towards yourself, each other, or other competitors), nobody in the boat is sailing well and certainly no one is having fun.  Everyone is human (myself certainly included) but I think the sailing world can do better in this area, life is too short!

– 5) Which is the race/regatta that you remember with the most pleasure?

Funny enough the most fun I’ve had at a regatta to this day is probably Quassy 2019 sailing with Arthur Blodgett.  Every year Quassapaug Sailing Center (Lake Quassapaug is a small lake in the middle of Connecticut) hosts a small fleet race regatta and all the competitors camp on the Sailing Center’s lawn.  Last year the conditions were a little breezier than normal and it was very challenging.    One minute we were in 6 knots of breeze and the next we were in 16+ so as a crew I was all over the boat making adjustments the whole time, I never stopped moving.  The challenge of racing was super fun and then we came in from sailing and got to hang with our snipe friends and camp on the lake for the weekend.  Beautiful/challenging conditions, a great party, music, camping, and the snipe family…what more could you want!

– 6) And the race/regatta you would like to forget?  

I think I can honestly say that there is no regatta I wish I could forget.  As I stated earlier, I sail because I love it.  That being said, I am an extremely competitive person so regattas are my favorite part.  Even at the most frustrating events from the moment I started sailing until now I have learned something. To forget a regatta would be to have gone through those growing pains for nothing.

– 7) Your “dream in the peak”? (Your sailing dream?)

Having been an athlete most of my life it would be a dream to compete and medal at the Olympics one day.  The draw for me is the dedication and the amount of effort it takes to achieve that level of perfection in sailing, and the reward is to represent your country.  I can think of nothing greater!

– 8) Sailing goals for 2020, and beyond?  

My sailing goal for 2020 is really to learn as much as possible.  I have a running joke with my friend Sharon Johnson that I am working on my “Sailing PhD”.  Part of what I love about sailing is that everyone, even those at the top of the sport, is always learning and developing.  Beyond that, I would love to have a podium finish at a Snipe Worlds (this is the answer to the beyond part lol).  I’ve sailed in many different classes and it is hard to match the depth of talent in a class like the Snipe so to be able to finish at the top some day would be amazing.

– 9) The most important people for you in sailing and in the Snipe?  

This is one of those questions I don’t really know how to answer.  I truly believe everyone on the water making an effort to learn, keeping up the class traditions, and spending time with the fleet is equally as important.  Everyone has to start somewhere and we are all only as good as the people we practice with.  This means everyone from the juniors who are the future of the class to the old timers that have been sailing for decades passing down the knowledge and tradition.  That being said I would not be the sailor I am today without the Snipe class, Augie Diaz and Kathleen Tocke are the ones responsible for that.

– 10) Why the Snipe?

Ah, can you think of a more perfect boat?! The Snipe is a technical boat, also very unforgiving at times making it all the more rewarding.  Once you figure it out, the Snipe is one of those boats that just kind of makes sense.  It might take a little bit to get there for sure but once you get it balanced and are doing things right I feel like the boat is taking me around the race course, not the other way around.  However the people who sail the Snipe all around the world are what makes the class.  Whenever a friend asks me why I love the class so much my immediate response is that every time you go to a regatta it is like a family reunion.  There is so much history/tradition in the Class that everyone competing in it has a level of passion for the Snipe and for sailing that I have yet to find elsewhere.

– 11) Your perfect sailing venue and your perfect sailing conditions?  

Warm waters, big breeze, and ocean swell…also a venue that does not have a beach launch lol.  I am lucky enough to have such a venue super close to my home, that would be sailing in Lauderdale.  Nothing matches the waves in Lauderdale after it’s been pumping from the east for a few days.

– 12) Besides sailing which other sport do you practice?  

Sailors do other sports besides sailing???  I am an active person, but really most of it is for my sailing.  I really like cycling when I have time and occasionally you can find me in the mountains hiking or snow skiing.

– 13) Are you superstitious?

You will never catch me in a regatta shirt while the event is happening.

– 14) Your perfect holiday?

The perfect holiday for me would be a remote place  with a few  close friends where there are mountains and ocean so if there is breeze I can go sailing in the waves, and if there isn’t I can go hiking!

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