by Herman Vandormael
The Ostend Snipe fleet is the oldest in Belgium. In 1947 the North Sea Yacht Club was founded by young members of the RYCO (Royal Yacht Club Ostend), the venue of the 1920 Olympic Sailing events. Ostend is the largest city at the Belgian coast. The Snipe was the most popular class in the new club, quite often with self-built boats. Originally located at the Spuikom, a lake behind the harbour, the new club moved to the harbour entrance (the Montgomery dock). The Snipes were even moored on buoys and races were held inside the harbour.
Later, Snipe fleets also started in Nieuwpoort further along the Belgian Coast, as well as in Antwerp on lake Galgenweel and in Hofstade, a small lake close to Brussels.
The NSYC and the Hofstade Yacht Club (HoYC) worked closely together to continue to develop the class. At the end of the fifties they organized the Copper Snipe Cup. Luc Maes, today the Commodore of the Royal North Sea Yacht Club, and an active Snipe sailor himself in the seventies recalls that instrumental to this organisation and success were Mr. Galeyn and Mr. Lippert the secretaries of the organizing clubs.
The Copper Snipe Cup became a major international regatta and a permanent fixture on the Snipe calendar, always organized around May 1st. Often 50 or more boats took part coming from Denmark, France, Spain, Sweden and the UK. The snipe was too heavy to launch from the sandy beach in Ostend and the boats were craned in and out of the water and stayed moored for the duration of the event.
During the latter part of the seventies the Cup was moved to Grevelingen lake in The Netherlands. Interest dwindled after a few years and also the Snipe fleet in Ostend was no longer active. These were the desert years of the class in Belgium. The Snipe class continued to exist, but had to wait for André Callot to start to thrive again.
The Copper Snipe Cup trophy has disappeared and we are actively trying to trace it – can you help? In 2021, Covid permitting, there will again be a regatta held on the North Sea from RNSYC in Ostend (www.RNSYC.be).
Please join us at this regatta. Back to the original home of Snipe sailing in Belgium.
Copper Snipe Cup 1974 winners: Anglade – Fondevila (ESP)
(Source: Le Courrier du Littoral 10/05/1974)
Herman Vandormael – BEL 28990
Editor’s Note: Ostende was also the venue of the 1956 Snipe European Championship