Leveling the playing field for World title
More than thirty teams representing ten countries are coming to the USA for the 2018 Snipe Women’s World Championship, hosted by Sail Newport on August 16-19 in Newport, RI. This event has been run biannually since 1994 when it was first held in Tokohama, Japan.
Among this edition’s entries are the reigning champion, Brazilian sailor Juliana Duque, and the 2016 runners-up, Anette Melsom Mhyre and Janett Krefting from Oslo, Norway. The fleet is studded with numerous multi-class, champions including 2-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Cory Sertl and Lynne Shore and Olympian Carol Cronin.
This year’s championship has witnessed a rise in participation and has its first ever entry from France while Poland and Canada are returning after a noted absence.
The Snipe Class is one of the few non-Olympic, non-youth classes to have a Women’s World Championship. The Women’s Worlds has always attracted high caliber and athletic women, having numerous Olympians at the top of podium including the likes of gold medalist Anna Tunnicliffe.
In addition to the Brazilians and Norwegians, top contenders for this year are long time teammates Carol Cronin (Jamestown, RI) and Kim Couranz (Annapolis, MD). The podium at the Women’s Worlds has evaded Cronin in the past, but with this year’s Worlds being in her backyard, it could be her year.
Cronin will have to keep her eyes on young Portuguese skipper, Mafalda Pires de Lima, who will be coming straight from competing in the 470 Worlds in Aarhus, Denmark. Pires de Lima beat Cronin and Couranz at last year’s Snipe US Women’s Nationals in Miami, and she will be well accompanied by perennial Snipe champion and double Pan Am Games medalist, Kathleen Tocke, also hailing from Newport.
The youngest skipper on the race course will be Lindsey Baab (Saratoga, CA) a high level Radial sailor and 2018 Collegiate All-American from Brown University. Baab’s older sister, Kaitlyn, recently joined the Class and after placing second at this year’s Miami Women’s Snipe Invite, convinced her sister to come to the Worlds.
The Snipe Class has always had a high proportion women relative to other non-Olympic classes, and in keeping with World Sailing’s effort to promote more women in the highest levels of sailing competition, the Snipe – the open double-handed dinghy in the Pan American Games – was recently changed to a mixed event.
Women’s Snipe teams can sail equally with mixed or men’s teams in light to medium conditions, but it can become a struggle in windy conditions, especially with upwind finishes. The Women’s Worlds offers women the opportunity to sail with their female friends on a more equal playing field.
Many male skippers at the highest level of the Class look for lighter weight female skippers to crew for them. World Champion Augie Diaz is one of these skippers. He says having two skippers in the boat is like having a second pair of eyes. At the Women’s Worlds, many crews find themselves at the helm again.