About the Snipe Class
In 2011 the Snipe celebrated 80 years of being one of the top, one- design, international, racing sail boats. Designed in 1931, the Snipe has consistently been one of the top two person sailboat racing dinghies in the USA and throughout the World.
Over this period many boat designs and classes have come and gone, but the Snipe and the Snipe Class has always been there to offer Serious Sailing, Serious Fun®.
It’s been a training boat for many of the World Class and Olympic sailors. When they want lots of boat time and racing that places a premium on strategy and tactics they come to the Snipe. It’s a great boat to introduce youth to the art of rigging and tuning, which is so important in most other boats after the Opti and 420. On the local level families and multiple generations of families have made Snipe sailing at their local club an integral part of their lives. It has been their Family recreation, together, for a life time.
In the USA, Snipe sailing is organized and managed by SCIRA USA. Our organization is dedicated to delivering to its members services and an organizational structure which contributes to an enjoyable one design sailboat racing experience in which members can have an enjoyable experience, learn and enhance their sailing skills.
National and International Competitions
The US Snipe Class has numerous National Championships held throughout the year. These include our regular Nationals, Jr. Nationals, Masters Nationals, and Women’s Nationals. All events are open.
The Snipe is also widely sailed around the globe. Both qualifying and open events are offered throughout Europe, South America, and Asia.
About the Boat
The Snipe is a 15 1/2 foot, 2 person, one design racing dingy which has delivered an enjoyable sailing experience and outstanding long term value for its owners for 75 years. Designed in 1931 by William Crosby as a smaller, easily trailerable sailboat which can be rigged and launched in a minimum of time, the Snipe has evolved into a modern tactical dingy which is enjoyed by a broad spectrum of recreational racing sailors, ranging from the entry level novice sailor to the Olympic champion. Across this spectrum of experience is one constant, enjoyable family recreation together for a lifetime.
The Snipe can effectively be sailed by people of all ages, skill and sizes. Many families start sailing the Snipe when their families are young, and make Snipe sailing an integral part of their life. You will frequently see a grandfather sailing with his grandchild, a husband with his wife, a wife with her husband, a parent with their child, or an all junior family team. The environment is excellent for raising a family, engaging in healthy competitive competition together as a family for an entire generation, or more.
The experience is best summed up in our theme, Serious Sailing, Serious Fun®, life time family recreation together for everyone.
History of the Snipe Class
In March 1931, RUDDER magazine Editor and small boat designer William F. (“Bill”) Crosby from Pelham, New York, attended a meeting of the Florida West Coast Racing Association in Sarasota, Florida. To answer a need for a class of small racing sailboats suitable for trailering to regattas, Crosby promised to give the proposed class a send-off by designing and publishing plans for such a boat in his magazine. The name Snipe was chosen in accord with RUDDER’s custom of naming all its designs for sea birds.
Snipe plans appeared in the July, 1931 issue of RUDDER, which quickly sold out. The Snipe was designed as a 15 foot 6 inch hard chine hull, to conform to the standard 16 foot plank, and was designed originally for home building. The original sail plan had an area of 100 square feet with a mainsail and working jib.
By early September, 1931, reports of boats being completed from the plans were received. The first Snipe was built by 14 year-old Jimmy Brown of Pass Christian, Mississippi, who had built the boat with the help of his father. A system of registration and numbering Snipes was established so that owners living near each other could be put in touch. Snipe Number 1 was assigned to Jimmy Brown.
By May 1932, 150 boats had been registered, and racing became general as several of the large racing associations recognized the Snipe class by giving official starts. Owners asked for information on a forming a national class organization for Snipes.
In November 1932, the Snipe Class International Racing Association (SCIRA) was formed with Dr. Hub E. Isaacks of Dallas, Texas, as the first SCIRA Commodore. A constitution and by-laws were drawn up and the first rulebook was published. At the end of the year there were 250 numbered boats, and Dallas was awarded the first fleet charter – which is still active.
The first fleet outside the United States was chartered in March 1933 in Dover, England. In July 1936, the Class reached the status of world’s largest racing class with fleets all over the world. Although the Snipe World Championships had been held since 1934, it was not until 1946 that this Championship actually became international. The event was held at Lake Chautauqua, New York. Contestants from Brazil, Newfoundland, Portugal and Switzerland participated as well as many from USA fleets. This had an impact on the Class and it was decided that international competition should be promoted.
SCIRA Commodore Charles Heinzerling announced that he would design a separate trophy for the USA champion, while retaining the Hub Isaacks Trophy for international competition.
Dr. Martin Dupan representing Switzerland, was so impressed with the Championship at Chautauqua, that he became the instigator for the first World Championship to be held outside of the USA. It was held in Geneva, Switzerland in 1947, with Ted Wells of the USA winning over champions from 13 countries.
In 1949, the decision was made to hold Hemisphere Championships and World Championships in alternate years.
The SCIRA Board of Governors bought the Snipe plans from RUDDER in 1948 and SCIRA was incorporated in 1954. In 1958, the Snipe received IYRU’s recognition as an international class.
The hull has remained essentially unchanged through the history of the class with only slight changes due to tightening of tolerances. The original 100 square feet of sail area was increased to 116 feet, with the introduction of the overlapping jib which replaced the working jib in 1932. Currently the sail area is 128 square feet in mainsail and overlapping jib. Spinnakers are not permitted. All early Snipes were wood plank hull construction, but in the 1950s, plywood and fiberglass were accepted as building materials for the hull and deck. The largest single change made in the class history was the weight reduction from 425 pounds to 381 pounds in the early 1970s.
Most Snipes are now built in fiberglass by professional builders, but plank and plywood Snipes are still built occasionally. Amateurs can build Snipes from plans available from the SCIRA headquarters. Fiberglass Snipes in various stages of completion may be offered by some builders, for home finishing. All boats are required to be measured and to carry current SCIRA decals in Snipe class competition.
News and developments of the Snipe class were originally published in monthly issues of RUDDER magazine until the late 1940s. In the mid-1940s, SCIRA began publishing its own monthly newsletter, the JIB SHEET which continued to the early 1950s when it was replaced by the SNIPE BULLETIN. The SNIPE BULLETIN is now published quarterly to cover international activities of the Snipe class, while US SNIPE SAILOR, also published quarterly, covers Snipe activities in the USA.
Over 30,800 Snipes have been registered by SCIRA in thirty countries around the world — making it one of the largest and oldest one-design classes in the world. The Snipe class celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2006, and the Snipe Class International Racing Association (SCIRA), formed in 1932, reached its 75th anniversary in 2007.