2013 US Snipe Nationals Final report

Buffalo, July 21-26, 2013. The 2013 US Nationals, otherwise known as “Snipe Camp”, has come to an end, and we’re already looking forward to the next edition. This year’s festivities took place at Buffalo Canoe Club, just across the Canadian Border on the north shore of Lake Erie. 38 boats sailed the Senior Nationals, and 12 boats sailed the Junior Nationals, but the winners were the same: Raul Rios/Mac Agnese posted all bullets in the Junior series and won half the races in the Senior series to lead the entire week.

Buffalo, July 21-26, 2013. The 2013 US Nationals, otherwise known as “Snipe Camp”, has come to an end, and we’re already looking forward to the next edition. This year’s festivities took place at Buffalo Canoe Club, just across the Canadian Border on the north shore of Lake Erie. 38 boats sailed the Senior Nationals, and 12 boats sailed the Junior Nationals, but the winners were the same: Raul Rios/Mac Agnese posted all bullets in the Junior series and won half the races in the Senior series to lead the entire week.

Although the winners didn’t vary, the conditions certainly did. On day 1, two races were sailed in a fading 4-6 knot ENE breeze, both won by Raul/Mac. Day 2 saw 12-18 knots from the SW for two more races (also won by Raul/Mac). Day 3’s post-cold-front breeze was a very shifty, streaky, puffy northerly breeze that featured 40 degree shifts, which led to a few evening requests for redress—none granted. And on day 4, we went back to the light ENE breeze to fit in what turned out to be the final race of the regatta.

Junior Nationals

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5 – Full results

Roberto Guaragna has kindly uploaded all his photos from the event.

A discussion is currently underway in the US about the length o ffuture Nationals. Those in favor of the status quo (5 days) like the “camplike” atmosphere of staying in one place for a full week with so many Snipe friends. Those advocating for 4 days want to maintain a longer regatta while slightly reducing the number of vacation days required; those pushing for a 3 day event figure it might increase participation if no one has to take an entire week off from work. Got an opinion? Feel free to share it in the comments below.

30 thoughts on “2013 US Snipe Nationals Final report

  1. As Carol wrote, SCIRA USA wants to improve attendance at the Nationals and is considering a different schedule/format if that will make the difference. Feel free to propose a schedule.

    When voicing your opinion keep in mind:

    – We do not have to have a qualifying series.
    – Travel is most expensive on Fridays and Sundays
    – Measurement does not have to be 2 days
    – The Juniors can be a separate event
    – We have a difficult time getting clubs to bid on Nationals

  2. Good discussion point. I know that I was not able to attend this most bodacious event on account of limited vacation time from my work, most of which was used up visiting my kids (and past snipe crews) in the far reaches of the globe where they happened to be for work and school this past year.
    Specific to THIS year’s event, I would think it this event was a 4-day event from Thurs thru Sunday, then I may have been able to squeeze it into my schedule if I was able to arrange teaming up with a friend who could double-deck and I could fly in/out.
    I admit to being a “regional” sniper (i.e. sailing only in the Northeast) since about 15 years ago. There are a zillion reasons why I should travel farther – especially being a US Board member – but my calendar always seems to prevent it. Instead, I choose to focus on getting the local snipers out there.

  3. This year I had a definite work conflict (helped teach a summer class) during nationals, so it is unlikely any format would have helped. But in general when we look at Nationals it is a definite trade off between the amount of time (hence no pay), money, and effort required to do it vs the fun component. Realistically I go to Nationals to enjoy the sailing and friends, mostly friends. It would probably be easier to arrange a 3 day event rather than a week.

    For those who have a realistic chance of winning, I could see the attraction of a longer event that could take some of the element of chance out of it, and I have enjoyed sailing for the whole week in the past. But at this point, 3 days is probably sufficient for me. Probably I am just getting lazy.

  4. I’m all for a shorter event. Not only because vacation is so limited, but also because it is hard to find a yacht club willing to take on a week long event for 30-50 sailboats. We just don’t offer the headcount where the club can probably make some decent money off of us. It’s also a lot of time for their volunteers (RC & safety for 7 days straight). It also drives up the cost of the regatta.
    I think 3 days is a good time frame. You can fly on Thursday and get home Sunday night or Monday morning. However, this also poses issues for the juniors and would push them to sailing on Weds/Thurs with their measurment on Tuesday. At that point, you might as well use a whole week. The downside of moving the juniors off the seniors is that it’s likely our junior participation will drop.
    The regatta in Canada was probably an added challenge for juniors particularly because they may not have had passports (or seniors for that matter).
    Ultimately, we will never know results unless something different is tried. Give a new format 1-3 years to see if it works. Maybe every 5th year we have a “reunion” style week long event to remind us of the good ol’ camp days.
    This is all coming from someone who used to sail a ton and over the last 7 years I’ve sailed less and less. Why?…requirements on my time have increased signficantly.

  5. Hi Kathleen, Thanks for your email. Unfortunately I had to miss this year because of work and I am sure I will be missing many more regattas in the future until I can secure a more stable work schedule. I think I would benefit from a shorter regatta just because I will never be able to have that many days off in a row with the exception of the 1 week vacation that I get a year and I cannot ask my husband to always spend our vacation at a regatta when he doesn’t sail. 🙁

  6. I concur with my friends Barb, Art, and others that a shorter nationals would offer a lot of benefits, and *may* get me back in the fold (but unfortunately my circumstances are complicated so I can make no promises, with 3 little ones and a new-ish job that takes up many summer weekends). Even before my life got more complex, my favorite “big” event was always the North American’s, mainly because it was a nice, efficient schedule with great sailing. It is a do-able schedule for a wide range of participants, emulated by many other one-design classes. The way the nationals schedule is now, taking up at least part of two successive weekends in addition to the week in between really makes it too long of a haul in terms of time, at least for me.

    I say make it a 3-day event (and be open to having more races on a given day than three, to make sure to take advantage of good conditions when available) and ditch the qualifying series, and make measurement one day if possible. This is not just for my sake; I think it will give us more host options and, hopefully, make it easier for more participants to come.

    Not sure what to do about the juniors, but if the women’s nationals has seen success as a separate event, could the same be true for juniors? Maybe, maybe not. I leave that to others to debate.

  7. For me the dwindling attendance has nothing to do with the format. Rather, the despicable attitude and actions of a few members of the class and, also very importantly, the INACTIONS and FAILURE to react by the class leadership and its relevant members.

    At Nationals in 2011 I sailed under the Ecuadorian flag and found myself under extreme prejudice. I was protested I cant even remember how many times, outright lies were thrown at us all the time trying to disqualify us, a completely unfair and obvious situation. Even the on the water judge protested us saying we only did 1 turn on a 720, she should give back whatever credential she has as a judge. Then the judges handling the protest were completely biased against us. I currently have no interest in sailing sail this event partially due to this reason.

    But further, at a later event, one Mr Ernesto Sanchez from St. Petersburg, FL blatantly stole my boat in front of the noses of every class member and leader and nothing was done to punish or prevent this atrocity from developing further as it did, having to bring lawyers into the equation. Instead, the Snipe “Family” resorted to doing absolutely nothing. That’s not a family. Its a bunch of people sailing the same boat.

    If you want more participation at Nationals you should focus on building a foundation. We are not a pro sport. As Ken Voss PERFECTLY pointed out, we all sail these events MOSTLY to see our sailing friends. Who wants to sail with these type of peoples?

    My boat’s up for sale. I’ll give you a good deal just to get rid of it.

    Gaston Vedani
    USA 30761

  8. From Gavin O’Hare:
    “I prefer a shorter (3 day nationals).
    The week long plus measurement is too much of a committment.
    Any by the way, too much of a committment for volunteers to run the event… as they have to take time away from work to support us.

    Perhaps the the nationals venue could be opposite coast to North Americans (when NA’s is same year and in US or Canada).”

  9. In reponse to Gaston – at the 2012 Nationals, not only were the winners of the event not American, but 4 out of the top 10 teams were from countries other than the USA. In fact, the US Board changed its policies to allow and encourage the attendance of more internationals teams.

    The US Class and the international Snipe community is indebted to Ernesto Sanchez for his efforts with the Super Trailer. He never used the trailer for his own profit. Due to unathorized alterations made to the Super Trailer, the trailer is no longer usable and this has not hurt attendance at US Events.

  10. My preference is for a 3 day event in the same format as the NA’s. If we need a qualifying series then do it in one day.

    The requirement for measurement should be waived and only spot checks done. I’ve run 2 NA’s and a world qualifier. We did not find one sail out of limits. We had a couple of boats needing weight.

    The real answer to greater participation is growing base at the fleet level. Add a fleet member or two and this will help increase participation at many events.


  11. I would support a 3 day event that uses the weekend days for competition. I think it challenging to take 5 days off of work without capitalizing on the weekend days…seems like a shame to force 5 days off work especially for those who live close by. We rotate the nationals around our districts so every few years it should be convenient for each team to attend without days of driving…use the weekends for the critical path of sailing! I also support one day of measurement and like the way measurement stickers minimize the re-measurement nightmares of olden days. I also concur that the #1 reason I go to nationals is to have fun and see friends, while also testing my skills against them. Lastly ,and maybe I am alone, I admit I question having the US nationals open to international competition as it feels strange to have half the top trophies (except perpetuals) going to pro teams pursuing a sailing campaign. Don’t get me wrong – I love meeting and sailing against the international folks, but always thought nationals was truly nationals and a chance for not only our very top U.S. sailors to come together, but also for the mom and pops to test their skills and to brush shoulders and have moments of glory against the legends. Now, my gut tells me those who aren’t on the regular snipe road-trip circuit feel even more out of place at nationals and are less likely to attend. I recall midwinters used to be our big international reunion (tons of fun!) and note that all other regattas are open to international boats as well (AYC Halloween…Frigid Digit bring great memories of international mixing.). Nationals was always a measuring stick to me as a kid progressing in my sailing career…and admittedly my last year’s 9th US finish didn’t feel as good being scored an international 14th…hey I finally had a top 10 nationals finish after all these years or did I? Silly perhaps, but maybe worth sharing in case it taps into motivations that might help others NOT already in the regular travelling circuit to come play at nationals. I would love to see us get more regional sailors participating, especially when nationals is in their district. Other ideas?

  12. ps…Puerto Rico is a US territory, hence would be totally included in nationals regardless of international participation decision…I pass on a huge congratulations to Raul Rios for his double hitter last week! 😉 I want to be sure nothing is “read into” my comments re: any particular country or team! 🙂

  13. Personally, I need the two days of Crosby to get used to a competitive starting line. I liked the old, old days when the Crosby did not carry over in any way. HOWEVER, putting aside my personal issues, I think that the regatta should be only three days, Thursday through Saturday, with measurement to be weight only, using the Augie rule (no lead taken out, only added). Measurement can be Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning, with the first race no earlier than Noon, Thursday. Juniors should be a separate event. This would be easier on competitors, and much easier on the volunteers. Leaving Sunday for travel would help the drivers and make it possible to get cheaper flights, Sunday evenings being pretty expensive.

  14. From Bridget Wiatrowski:

    “Echoing the family and work priorities others have cited, I strongly support a three day event that includes Saturday and Sunday.

    Thank you for soliciting input.”

  15. To summarize Gaston Vedani’s opinion, “The format is not the problem for dwindling numbers at the Nationals.”

    As for the rest of Gaston’s comments, his personal attack on the owner of the trailer (that Gaston borrowed and altered without permission) was disappointing. Neither was without fault in the unfortunate situation that ensued; neither was “the bad guy.” Were it not for Augie, Don Hackbarth, and a few others of the Snipe Family, who stepped in to help sort things out, the mess would have been much worse. However, all of this is better addressed in another forum.


  16. Editor’s Note: Thanks for all the comments. Please restrict any future comments to the subject of Nationals format, as future off-topic comments will not be published.

  17. I am all for 3 day nationals, perferably over a weekend. Maybe up the number of races per day to make up for it.

  18. I feel a shorter format – 3 days – would be a good step toward attracting more boats. Everyone’s lives are far too busy these days to commit 8-9 days (including travel). More importantly however, I feel the class in the US needs to decide who it wants to attract and work in that direction. While international semi-pros and visiting young guns make for good sailing they do little to help at the grass roots level. Juniors could easily be a separate regatta, 2 days, one weekend. Same names at all the big regattas, we need to attract and keep new sailors. I’ll be back sailing once my rotator cuff heals.

  19. I would like to put in a word for a 4 day Nationals. Yes vacation time is tight, but one of the great aspects of this regatta is the “Snipe Camp” atmosphere that can only be built up when a group devotes so much time to the event. For those advocating for 3 days, would it keep you from attending if it were 1/2 day of measurement and 3.5 days of racing? Taking Peter’s model of Thursday-Saturday and expanding it to include Sunday?

  20. While I have not been in the Snipe nor at the Nationals in recent years (making my return at Oxford in two weeks!) and very much have enjoyed the past long Nationals experience, I think the reality of today is a 3 day event has the highest likeliness of success and would support that. The exact days could and should be adjusted based on local context (size of local fleet, club availability, distance to other fleets etc) so as to optimize travel as Peter mentioned.

    The format of the event should not include a qualifier as we will likely never again see fleet sizes that require it, however there still needs to be a realistic way of making a “cutoff” to award the Wells trophies within a single fleet start. It is important to provide that competitive goal for people who are not at the top of the scoresheet.

    I echo Tarasa’s comment that it feels weird to have competitors in the regatta who can affect the outcome of a trophy for which they can not win. That said, this will likey never affect *me* personally, so I will leave it up to the folks at the top of the scoresheet to weigh in on whether it feels right to, for example, finish “2nd” in the regatta but be the US National Champion. If it were me, it would cheapen the value of the accomplishment and all that goes along with it.

  21. I am all in favor of a shorter 3 day event over a weekend and having the option of junior nationals being at a separate venue. Mainly it would be a lot easier logistically to take two weekends off maybe a few weeks apart than it is to go somewhere and get housing for a whole week or more and also many juniors have summer jobs that we can’t just leave for a week because or work time is short to begin with. Also if junior nationals were at a separate event then we could accommodate any “up and coming” jr fleets and make sure that the easiest place to have the event for jr sailors is an option. This should be kept in mind because the best venue for nationals may not always be the best place for jr nationals. Also there may be a place with a lot of juniors for example but not with a large snipe fleet so doing nationals there would be difficult but at least having juniors there would help introduce young sailors and build the fleet.

  22. All for a 3 or 4 day event as well. Thursday or Friday to Sunday… Agree that more races could be sailed per day too.

  23. I like three days over a weekend with the option of five day snipe camp for practice and other activities. Have the essential events the most feasible, add the fun on top. I could get away with three days during the school year and weeks during the summer. I’d rather sail than not sail. So fri-sun say, or mon-fri or whatever!

  24. I think shortening the regatta into a 3 or 4 day event would make it easier to attend.
    Maybe race committee can plan on doing more races each day to make up for it.

    As for Junior Nationals, I think it would be good to have them separated and for them to be held somewhere with an abundance of snipes and jr sailors. That way new people can try the boat, and there are more people racing. The “true snipe juniors” would probably still attend both. The only problem would be rising costs for travel…

  25. What a great idea this forum was! Very few classes would actually care to hear what their sailors’ opinions are, and even fewer would make changes to satisfy their needs!

    I believe that the Junior Nationals should stay connected to the National event. Travel, expenses, etc can be difficult to manage, depending on where the event is being held. If a Junior would like to sail both events, then the difficulty becomes multiplied.
    Also, Junior sailors get a chance to see the camaraderie between the “older” (not to step on any toes! haha) sailors in the fleet. They see that there is more to the fleet than just what they see during those 2 days.

    However, I am in support of shortening the length of Nationals. As Charlie Bess stated, most Junior sailors have summer jobs. Most Seniors have real jobs, as well! It is difficult to get vacation time, for some.
    As far as venue placement goes, I believe that the class is doing a wonderful job!! I would’ve have loved to be at BCC this year for Nationals. But, alas, no such luck.

    Thank you for creating this forum, and allowing Snipe sailors to voice their opinions.

    Taylor Scheuermann

  26. I am in favor of a three day regatta (maybe Friday , Saturday, and Sunday). The less vacation days we need to take the better. An increase in races per day could make up for the less amount of days

  27. So far in my little experience in snipes the regattas have always been ill timed. Yes, taking an entire week for nationals is unnecessary, but what about Midwinters which fall in the dead middle of the week but people still show up. It also always falls on the week before my actual school spring break leaving me to miss both Midwinters and Don Q.

    With travel and scheduling conflicts affecting everyone, I believe the best, most fair, and cheapest option is to select the events which always have the largest turnouts and make a championship series. For example if 5 regattas a year were part of the championship series and tally the best 3 regattas for each person which allows for people to miss some regattas and make the nationals a required regatta for the series and shorten nationals to 3 days.

    -Juniors having a separate event is a good idea.
    -As for measurement I think weight is the main thing to be checked at an event and maybe have a measurers walk around the boats as the are being rigged and perform brief spot checks to make sure no illegal rigging and/or the hull and rudder have not been sharpened more than the rule permits. Maybe hull and mast measurements only made once per boat and mast with the owner receiving a certificate of measurement which would only need to be renewed if the mast and/or boat switched owners.

  28. I am in a different position because I have time in the summer so it is the same convenience over a weekend or during a week. Over the most recent nationals there was a lot of down time, not due to the wind. The schedule is so spread out that there is more down time than sailing time. The mass seems to prefer a three day event and I agree, but for the down time reasoning. I do think we have to account for measurement on some level on a fourth day. I would propose a measurement day and three racing days. If you are only able to fly in for the event you are likely going to have someone else take your boat. You would simply have to ask them to measure you boat to keep it a 3 day event for you. We would have check-in open early Friday morning for late arrivals. With three days it would make the most sense to follow the same format we have the last two years where every race counts the same. It would mean a “change” to the format of nationals on paper but we have been racing that way anyway. The change would make the regatta easier to attend and much easier to host. I also think that the juniors should be separate. There have been more boats at the Miami snipe invitation the last two years than at the junior nationals so I do not think the argument that it is easier to host with senior nationals make much sense. It is harder for the host for sure. To make junior nationals work we would need to choose venues with lots of boats available for use. It is more limited but there are still plenty of venues…and these venues are more active so I am sure they would be more than happy to host juniors on a rotation of say every four years.
    My only caveat is that if we shorten nationals an effort has to be made to schedule it in a manner that might boost attendance of other summer regattas. If it is only three days it will attract sailors that have not been able to attend because of the week long commitment. Those that are able to make that commitment should be able to attend another summer regatta. There are lots of options.


  29. 4 days is fine, but 3 just wouldn’t feel like a national regatta. 3 days is the equivalent to Buzzards Bar Regatta.

  30. Echoing the family and work priorities others have cited, I strongly support a three day event that includes Saturday and Sunday.

    Thank you for soliciting input.

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