14 Questions to … Greg Saldana

Greg Saldana, Snipe sailor from Michigan

– 1) Your first time on a sailing boat?

1981 in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Scott Deardorff invited me to crew on his dad’s boat: a 33 foot sloop designed by Britton Chance Jr. for lake sailing. Scott’s dad Bill, rigged the boat with a very tall mast and the sail area was huge. It also had very narrow beam – maybe eight feet max. The boat pointed like hell but downwind with the huge spinnaker we had our hands full. The boat was named after a famous California bandit: Joaquin Murrieta. I had many good times on that boat.

– 2) Your first time on a Snipe?

1994 in Biscayne Bay Miami, Florida with Gonzalo Diaz Sr. – The Old Man. I had just moved to Miami from California and was lucky to learn about he and his Snipe program through a colleague at the University. At that time he was very active with a leasing program and building the fleet. He offered very affordable terms with an option to buy and it was a perfect fit for me. Old Man gave me a demonstration on how to set the boat up and then we went sailing on the Bay. We sealed the deal out his van/office same day. The best lease agreement I’ve ever signed.

Greg Saldana, Snipe sailor from Michigan

– 1) Your first time on a sailing boat?

1981 in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Scott Deardorff invited me to crew on his dad’s boat: a 33 foot sloop designed by Britton Chance Jr. for lake sailing. Scott’s dad Bill, rigged the boat with a very tall mast and the sail area was huge. It also had very narrow beam – maybe eight feet max. The boat pointed like hell but downwind with the huge spinnaker we had our hands full. The boat was named after a famous California bandit: Joaquin Murrieta. I had many good times on that boat.

– 2) Your first time on a Snipe?

1994 in Biscayne Bay Miami, Florida with Gonzalo Diaz Sr. – The Old Man. I had just moved to Miami from California and was lucky to learn about he and his Snipe program through a colleague at the University. At that time he was very active with a leasing program and building the fleet. He offered very affordable terms with an option to buy and it was a perfect fit for me. Old Man gave me a demonstration on how to set the boat up and then we went sailing on the Bay. We sealed the deal out his van/office same day. The best lease agreement I’ve ever signed.

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

Probably not the most bizarre but here goes: 1995 Biscayne Bay. My good friend Bill Schoenberg Jr. and I sailed together for the first time when I had (maybe) three months of experience at the helm. It was blowing a solid 15 knots at the dock. By the time we made it to the starting line it was blowing 20. Bill was nervous with me at the helm considering the conditions but I was in a different world. It was all great fun until it blew even harder. After the start we could barely see the weather mark due to the height of the waves. It would eventually blow 25 knots or more. We made it to the weather mark and I’ll never forget, Bill said: “Dude you just beat Augie Diaz to the mark”. I didn’t know who Augie Diaz was and I was having a blast.

That’s when Bill begged me for the helm to sail the boat down wind. Of course I refused, we did a chicken jibe and started sailing downwind. That’s when things got very interesting. We submarined maybe five or six times after sailing over waves 3-4 feet high. The wind blew so hard the whole rig shook violently – I thought it was going to break. You can see where this is going: I was unable to control the boat and we capsized to leeward. Bill went in the water first and I followed feet first and hit him square on the nose with one of my hiking boots and he began to bleed. We uprighted the boat, I gave the helm to Bill and we sailed home. He must be nuts because we still sail together and when it blows we recall that day and share good laughs.

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

When I’m not having fun.

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

This is tough to answer because there are many memorable regattas but here are two that stand out most:

The Don Q 2000 – I crewed for the Old Man. On the first day we were having a tough time getting the boat to move fast so we asked George Szabo for tips on trimming the main. He made it sound so simple but as we later learned – his advice worked !! The next day we were feeling real good. Augie met us at the dock, wished us good luck and we went sailing. Our start was not great so we tacked away from the fleet to the right found a clear lane, got up to speed and eventually worked our way back to the left side. And we kept going left on a header toward Key Biscayne. I refrained from saying anything to my skipper so not to distract him – as you can imagine. When we made the lay line we tacked and got a huge lift to the mark. Old Man said “Greg don’t say anything”. I could see the fleet below our boom. We rounded the weather mark in first well ahead of the fleet. The decision of my skipper to go way left introduced me to what is referred to as “The Old Man Expressway”. We ended up in fourth that race but it helped to secure a tenth overall in the regatta and we took home a trophy.

The other was sailing in the Piada 2010. Alberto Perdisa, Pietro Fantoni and Giovanni Stella hosted an experience I will never forget. The day I arrived Alberto and his family shared a remarkable meal prepared by his lovely wife Antonella. We sat under a grape arbor at their home outside Bologna surrounded by cabernet sauvignon vineyards. Needless to say we enjoyed fresh red wine! I would not have been able to have the fine time I did without the help of Giovanni – an excellent translator and Snipe sailor.Pietro (what can I say) set me up with a young and very pretty fit female crew who wore a two piece red bikini the entire regatta. Other skippers would maneuver close to our boat in-between the starts and I can assure you it was not to say hello to me. On the final day of races Bart Janssens and I had a conversation before putting our boats in the water. We shared the usual, ‘how did you learn about this regatta’, ‘where are you from’, ‘how long sailing in the Snipe’ etc… and then Bart said: “May I ask you a personal question?” “Sure go ahead” I replied. He asked: “Can you concentrate with your crew in the boat”?

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

Not one, they are all fun and I always learn something about the boat and sailing.

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

This is an excellent question: Sailing in Biscayne Bay in the Don Q. Mid 70’s degrees 10-15 knots of wind out of the east. My children are sailing together in their own boat. They share both helm and crew responsibilities and win the regatta !!! They also learn when to take the Old Man Expressway.

– 8) Sailing goals for 2014, and beyond?

This year I will sail the Rasco with Bill Schoenberg, the Don Q with Giovanni Stella and hopefully the Ron Payne before transporting my boat to Michigan. I’ll be introducing the Snipe to my children Beatriz and Simon. We have also had conversations about the Optimist program so things are looking very good for 2014. Unfortunately, there’s not much Snipe sailing in Michigan. As a result I’ve been sailing a Lightning out of Pontiac Yacht Club on Cass Lake between May and October. Outside of that I look forward to much the same program in 2015 and beyond.

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

My beautiful wife Monica who surprised me with a birthday present I will never forget – a new Jibe Tech – US 30743. We named it “La maquina del amor”.

Old Man Diaz who has provided me many valuable opportunities to learn how to sail the boat and participate in racing with the Snipe Family. And Carmen Diaz for sharing many life insights, tremendous humor and super boat lunches over the years.

My California friends: The Deardorff Family and Paolo Shaeffer for introducing me to sailing.

Bill Schoenberg Jr. for taking time to share his knowledge and make the boat go fast.

Giovanni Stella for taking time to travel from Italy and sail the Don Q.

– 10) Why the Snipe?

It’s a very affordable and competitive boat. I learn something about the boat and sailing each time I go out and can sail with the best local, national and international competitors. The class has a great group of people who enjoy sharing their knowledge and who love to have fun.

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

Don Q. Mid 70 degrees, 10-15 knots of wind out of the east. 50 boats at the starting line and I’m weighing 155 lbs.!!!

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

Not really sports – shooting game birds and cooking.

– 13) Are you superstitious?

No, but I like Paolino Lambertenghi’s occasional method.

– 14) Your perfect holiday?

My wife, children and I are in Italy. I sail the Piada with Giovanni Stella in 15 knots of breeze.

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