Class of the Month: Snipe

“Serious racing, serious fun…” The Snipe class motto neatly sums up the appeal of this ubiquitous dinghy. Fifteen and a half feet long, light and uncomplicated, easy to trailer and launch, the Snipe is a boat that never gets old. Go to any Snipe regatta and you’ll see septuagenarians mixing it up with teenagers, pro sailors battling it out with Sunday-afternoon amateurs.The boat’s
Author:
Publish date:
snipe.int

“Serious racing, serious fun…” The Snipe class motto neatly sums up the appeal of this ubiquitous dinghy. Fifteen and a half feet long, light and uncomplicated, easy to trailer and launch, the Snipe is a boat that never gets old. Go to any Snipe regatta and you’ll see septuagenarians mixing it up with teenagers, pro sailors battling it out with Sunday-afternoon amateurs.

The boat’s deceptive simplicity is one of the secrets of its success. There are plenty of lines to tweak, but no spinnaker, and no acrobatics are required of its two-person crew. Strict one-design rules and a boat weight limit make for a level playing field, and because there are few advantages to be had over the competition in terms of boatspeed, tactical acumen is a hallmark of successful Snipe racers. Many top sailors have cut their racing teeth in Snipes, including Olympic medalists Paul Elvstrm and Torben Grael.

Bill Crosby, former editor of The Rudder magazine, designed the Snipe back in 1931 in response to requests for a small boat that could be easily transported to regattas; hence, it was also one of the first trailer-sailers. The plans duly appeared in the magazine—which named all its designs after seabirds—and Snipes began to take shape in garages and basements all over the country. The dinghy’s length was dictated by the then-standard 16ft plank, and the hard-chine design made for easy amateur construction.

The design caught on quickly. An estimated 30,000 Snipes have been built in two dozen countries. Over the years, the original design has changed very little, except for a weight reduction from 425 to 381 pounds. The plank-on-frame construction of the early boats gave way to plywood and fiberglass in the 1950s, but there are still builders who can set you up with a gorgeous traditionally built wooden Snipe. A new fiberglass Snipe complete with trailer will set you back around $15,000, but you can buy an older boat for short money.

Snipe regattas are renowned for their easygoing, family-friendly atmosphere. With fleets on each coast and the Great Lakes, there is no shortage of competition. Two key regattas this year are the Masters World Championship set to take place next month in Syracuse, Indiana, and the Women’s World Championship this November in St Petersburg, Florida.

For more information, go to www.snipeus.org.

Related

arc18-3981

Stories from the Cruisers of the ARC

Each December, the docks at Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia are abuzz as the fleet of the ARC—the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers—arrives to much fanfare. No matter what time of day or night, the staff of the World Cruising Club, organizers of the 33-year-old rally, are there to ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com A sign from outside the box  Rev counters on modern engines are driven electronically from a terminal on the alternator. If all is well, as soon as the engine fires up the revs will read true. If, ...read more

emSelf-tacking-jib

Ask Sail: Are Self-trackers Worth It?

Q: I’m seeing more and more self-tacking jibs out on the water (and in the pages of SAIL) these days. I can’t help thinking these boats are all hopelessly underpowered, especially off the wind, when compared to boats with even slightly overlapping headsails. But I could be ...read more

01-LEAD-hose-leak-CREDIT-BoatUS

Know how: Is Your Bilge Pump up to the Job?

Without much reflection, I recently replaced my broken bilge pump with a slightly larger model. After all, I thought, surely an 800 gallon-per-hour (gph) pump will outperform the previous 500gph unit? Well, yes, but that’s no reason to feel much safer, as I soon discovered. The ...read more

190314-viddy

St. Maarten Heineken Regatta: A Source of Hope

The tagline for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is "serious sailing, serious fun." However, for the inhabitants of St. Maarten, the event is more than just a festival of great music and some of the best sailing around. Local blogger Angie Soeffker explains the impact the race ...read more

SPOTX-1500x1500_front

Gear: SPOT-X Satellite

Hits the SPOT The SPOT-X two-way satellite messenger is an economical way of staying connected to the outside world via text or e-mail when you’re at sea. As well as the messaging service, it has a distress function that not only alerts authorities if you’re in trouble, but lets ...read more

_8105684

A Kid’s Take on the Northwest Passage

Going North—and West Crack! Crunch! I woke with a start to the sound of ice scraping the hull of our 60ft sailboat, Dogbark. In a drowsy daze, I hobbled out of the small cabin I was sharing with my little sister. As I emerged into the cockpit, I swiveled my head, searching for ...read more