(Photo courtesy of Matias Capizzano – SCIRA)
Henrique Haddad (aka “Gigante”), from Rio de Janeiro, won the recent Snipe World Championship in Ilhabela with his crew Gustavo Nascimento.
I know that you are sailing the 470 (Olympic campaign for Tokyo 2020), so you are super busy. How did you prepare for the Worlds? Did you sail with other Brazilian teams?
This year I did not have much time for Snipe sailing because I’m focused on the Olympic campaign. But I knew that the Worlds in Ilhabela was a really good opportunity to be competitive. So I didn’t want to lose this chance.
Probably nobody there sailed more than me this year. I trained a lot this year and did many regattas at a really high level. Snipes Worlds was my fourth world championship just in 2019. I did Nations Cup (Match Race), 470 Worlds and J/70 Worlds. So even without sailing in Snipe, I knew that I could be competitive.
Do you think it was an advantage to sail full time on your 470 and then jump on your Snipe, or it was difficult to find the right feeling with the Snipe?
The 470 is such a technical boat, it helps me a lot to sail another boat. It developed my feeling for the boat and my race skills. (Note: Henrique Haddad sailed the 470 at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with Bruno Bethlem crewing for him)
How many years have you sailed the Snipe? How long have you sailed with Gustavo Nascimento? Did you sail with Gustavo or also with other crews?
I have a lot of experience in the Snipe class. I did my first Nationals in 2005. In 2007 I got third in the Nationals, just behind Xandi (Paradeda) and Bruno (Bethlem). That was an amazing result. With Gustavo I just sailed ten days before the Worlds. But he is a Laser sailor in a really good shape. Together we have a perfect weight for medium and strong winds (63+83). This is why I chose him.
Do you have a coach or a local expert in Ilhabela?
Ilhabela is my second home. It’s probably the venue that I have sailed more in my life than anywhere except my hometown (Rio). It looks like an easy place for sailing because the right side normally pay a lot, but to have a good strategy and find a good way and manage to do it is really important. Mario Tinoco was my coach, and he helped a lot with the strategy.
What was the most important factor for the victory at the Worlds? Can you describe your week in Ilhabela and how did you manage this long week of sailing? How were your expectations at the beginning of the regatta and your strategy day by day?
From the beginning I knew that we had to manage to keep in the game in the light airs. So I think that the first two races made the difference for us, because with good results we could have more risk in the rest of the championship. With windy conditions I knew that was our moment to make bullets and put us fighting for the top positions. And we did it on the third day.
On the last day you were very tight with your friend Xandi Paradeda and the Spaniard Damian Borras. Which was your plan on the last day and before the last race?
The last day was amazing. I was already really happy to be fighting for the world title. With two discards I knew that Xandi was in the fight for the top position. Starting the last race we were eight points behind him and a few points in front of Damian and Juninho. We tried to start close to Xandi. But just after the start we found a free way to the right side that was paying a lot and I saw that Xandi couldn’t tack. So I told to my crew that we had a good opportunity for win. We knew that Xandi would manage to pass many boats by the end, so we had the same mentality, let’s keep pushing forward to catch as many boats as we could. In the end we were happy with our finish.
Afterward I just thanked Gustavo for our week and said to him that no matter if we were first or second we did everything that we could. There were a few minutes of tension before we knew that we were the new world champions. Indescredible feeling! It was amazing to win against a friend and with a lot of friends of mine there to celebrate with us.
Can you describe your equipment?
I have an old Lemão boat, with a simple layout. Sidewinder gold and Quantum sails.
I don’t have secret numbers. I always use standard numbers in the Snipe. What made the difference was the team, me and Gustavo. But in general we had a boat with a lot of power. I like long spreaders. I usually play a lot with the vang and mast aft to control the power.
Do you have a person to whom you dedicate your victory at the Worlds?
To all of my friends that helped me with my crowdfunding to support my Olympic campaign. Today I’m world champion because of them.
Your programs for the future?
SSL invited me to do the finals in Bahamas, I’m very happy with the opportunity. I will do my best to be competitive. After that I will come back full ahead to my campaign to Tokyo 2020. I have a lot to training and no time to lose, so I will focus 100% there.