By Thierry den Hartigh
2 long weekends in February, 2,3,4 and 8,9,10, Ghent is the organizing city of the Belgian Boat show representing 350 exhibitors, from big boats to surf and kite shops, sailing clubs, federations, boat renting, sailing schools, bank insurance and lease companies and as from this year we had the Hall of Fame.(www.belgianboatshow.be). Last time the Snipe Class was present at the show was 20 years ago, when André Callot took his boat, paid a stand and was sitting there for 1 weekend long.
That time these kinds of visitors were not the ideal market to approach to get them attracted to our class. There was almost no return and every year since it was the big question: to be or not to be present at the show. But this year and with the initiative of Dries Crombe of SailON and Optiteam we had the opportunity to have our Snipe exposed in the Hall of Fame together with the most popular Belgian sailing classes such as the Optimist, Cadet, Laser, Finn, FJ, SB 20 and the Dragon.
On the last Friday evening the Belgian Boat show organized a big sailor’s party. All sailors from the Low Countries were invited at the celebrating of the champions during a drink and a music party. This sounds already a little bit more familiar with our motto, serious sailing and serious fun! The Snipe class had to be present this year.
What André Callot did the last 25 years is almost indescribable. He exhorts himself to motivate people to sail the Snipe and changed the snipe class reputation to something TRENDY in Belgium. It is the only class with a positive evolution. Andre motivated every Snipe sailor in Belgium to participate in organizing something within the class. The Snipe had really a bad reputation 20 years ago. Other Sailors called us the old men sailing class. Now we and I really mean, everybody from the Belgium Snipe class is helping a hand to avoid doing the same mistake as we did before. The Belgian Snipe Class is Trendy just by attracting young people, attracting good sailors from other Classes, helping new comers with clinics and training days (thanks to SailON), travelling to International sailing events, having a good website support for an excellent exchange of ideas and experiences and having a lot of parties in between. Actually The Belgian Snipe Fleet is the biggest fleet in Belgium and is really HOT among all sailors. Ben (Van Cauwenbegh) and Manu (Hens) also build on the Snipe reputation by winning a lot in the Dragon Class. Gio (Galeotti) teaches other sailors how to fly and other champions from other classes find their challenge trying to beat us.
During the Boat show we invited people to have ‘ an hap en a drink ‘ and to see us, the Belgian Snipe Class, in action during the Antwerp Snipe Cup in March. Also with the help of my sponsor GO (a web based company specialized in all kinds of mobility services) we will organize a snipe promotion day in April where we invited people to have the opportunity to sail in snipe by ending the day with a small snipe regatta, of course with the necessary drinks and food.
And yes, with these 2 small invitations during the boat show, the snipe class offered more than all others sailing classes together. Sailing in big fleets, competition on high level, a sailing boat for everybody, both sexes, almost all ages, all weights, cheap compare to other classes, easy to travel, easy and safe to sail with, excellent international social network and good exchange of friendship, experience and ideas (www.snipetoday.com) and good support of the newcomers. Snipe Sailing, What Else!