After Zeltic and Jibe Tech, now it is time for an interview with DB Marine. SnipeToday interviewed Enrico Michel, Snipe sailor, and the chief of the company based in Trieste, Italy, that builds Snipes, 12’ Dinghies and Contenders.
ST: Enrico, can you tell us the history of the company?
As everybody knows Jan Persson is the Persson Snipe’s “father”. I remember him from my first participation in international events and later on, when I bought my first Persson snipe in 1995, I definitely got in contact with him. The story of his professional life is very interesting and we celebrated it, dedicating an article on our website on the occasion of his 20th anniversary of Persson’s production.
He built his first personal Snipe in 1971 in Spain, where he was living for a while. When he decided to run his own business in 1989 he took this old Snipe and made his first set of moulds for the modern Persson Snipe. His new boat had its debut in San Remo in 1990. The year after a Persson Snipe used by Santiago Lange won the Worlds.
Due to personal reasons in 2005 he decided to retire from business and after an unsatisfactory experience, he decided in 2008 to sell the moulds and the brand to DB Marine which has been operating in the dinghy market since 2007. Since then we maintained a mutual and friendly relationship of cooperation.
ST: When did you start to produce Snipes?
In 2008, immediately after buying the moulds from Jan Persson.
ST: I know you are producing a new boat. Can you describe the new project and why did you decide to modify the old boat?
The new DB-R1 is the result of one year of work of DB Marine staff together with ingegnere Alice Parodi (graduated in naval engineering at University of Genoa/La Spezia, supervised by Professor Edward Canepa) who developed the project, the ergonomic studies and the CFD tests; Professor Andrea Ratti from the Politecnico of Milan who conducted the Reverse Engineering; the University of Naples where we did the water tank tests; and prof. Raphaela Gutty from the Area di Ricerca of Trieste, who helped us find the best suppliers for each part.
The reason why we started our project is in our motto: “The continuous training which improves the experience and renews the knowledge”. Our goal is to anticipate a more and more demanding market, proposing continuous improvements. The Persson Snipes were always at the forefront. We want to keep to this, not disappointing our clients.
ST: What can you tell us about the hull design?
We worked on a perfect symmetry of the hull, better distribution of the volumes particularly on the bow, and maximizing the length of the hull. To achieve these objectives we first studied in detail our previous boat through “Reverse Engineering” and tank tests. Then we developed the new project, starting from these results.
ST: Did you also modify the deck’s design?
The DB-R1 deck has been updated even if we kept the guidelines of the Persson Snipe. We tried to give it a more “aggressive” look. The project focused on the ergonomic hiking position in order to increase the comfort both for crew and skipper and the deck on that area has been reinforced. A special place for the Tacktick compass has been created and the splash rail has been modified in order to ease the sliding of the crew during downwind leg. The existing area for the skipper’s control lines became removable, offering a choice between two versions for the jib system: standard or racing.
ST: Did you also design the foils?
The foils have been object of previous keen computer studies during the last year, and we didn’t change them on the DB-R1.
In 2009 we presented our new revolutionary rudder to increase the hydrodynamics and reduce the water drag.
In 2010 we made the changes on our centerboard, enlarging the hole on the superior part in order to lower the CG of the boat for downwind and reaching. The shape of the hole was studied in order to avoid as much as possible the twisting of the centerboard. We also released another version of the centerboard for lighter teams: same shape but different aluminum alloy to increase the flexibility.
ST: And you tested the boat in Trieste?
The “speed tests” took place in Trieste on the 10th and 11th July with two exceptional testers: Augie Diaz and Kathleen Tocke. Stefano Longhi and myself were the sparring partners. Two incredible days for Trieste, both with 15 to 16 knots of wind and nice waves.
On the first day both teams maintained their usual settings and sails. On the second day we used the same sails in order to avoid any possible difference in the performance not related to the boat.
For the same reasons we switched boats and crews trying to match the weights. The result was very satisfactory and the DB-R1 proved to be easier to drive particularly in the waves, and more comfortable on the hiking position, while maintaining the typical Persson performance.
ST: Can you list the main achievements of your Snipe in the recent years?
Persson Snipes have a long history of successes: 9 Worlds, 5 World Masters, 8 Europeans, 4 Western Hemispheres and more than 100 National Championships since 1989. Our first personal success with a DB Marine was in 2009 when Bruno Bethlem and Dante Bianchi with the DB Persson Snipe hull number 30800 won the Worlds. The most recent is the 2012 Piada Trophy when Alexandre Tinoco won with the DB Persson hull number 30922.
In between, we’ve had lots of other prestigious achievements. World Master 2010: first and second in Apprentice and in Master categories; South European 2009 – 2010 – 2012: first; Europeans 2010: second; Worlds 2011: 6 boats in the first 10 places; South American Championship 2012: first.
Up to now DB Marine produced over 100 boats: we hope to double this number as soon as possible!