Snipe USA

2007 Bacardi/Gamblin Memorial Series

March 26
16:53 2007

2007 Bacardi/Gamblin Memorial Series

Royal Nassau Sailing Club

March 21-24, 2007


(March 26, 2007) If you believe your Snipe has a soul, then surely there is a Snipe heaven and its gates are the Royal Nassau Sailing Club.

Much like the immortal Gods of Olympus, the Bahamians have perfected the art of racing their Snipes and enjoying themselves in a leisurely, refined, yet wickedly devilish sort of way in which each day the physically demanding on-the-water action is followed by equally demanding onshore consumption and late night mayhem.

As a result, every day starts pretty much the same: you wake up and wish you were dead. But with great charm and grace your local host drags you down to the club where somehow you manage to launch your Snipe, hoist sails, and within minutes of leaving the dock you are on a screaming plane out to the course. Adrenalin cures all.

The first race of the day begins promptly at 1100 hours. You start grinding up the mile-long beat. The wind gauge reads a steady 18 knots. Depending on the current, you find yourself either picking your way through a long swell or battling a steep rip chop. Five minutes up the first beat you start remembering why you hurt so much. But the fleet is still bunched up so you hang in there until the windward mark approaches where you bear away… and enter Snipe heaven.

A Snipe reaches like you’ve only dreamed about. Square to the wave, a pump and a rock — to which the Snipe responds like the thoroughbred you’ve always known her to be — and you are launched through the cresting white water into the deep trough of the infinite aqua blue beyond. The gybe mark is lost in the swell but the next wave is all that matters; yet, all too quickly it looms ahead. Invariably, someone has tripped over their board, capsizing near the mark, and causing you to zig zag furiously… and enter Snipe hell.

The gybe mark here has a storied past. Its floats serenely in the midst of Snipes screaming through a chaotic graveyard of capsized Snipes and bobbing Snipe sailors, swarming rescue boats, all manner of flotsam, bent masts, broken poles, the water shredded into a white froth and the air filled with the sounds of snapping sails, shouting sailors, and whistling wind. I personally believe ghosts of past Snipe sailors reach up from the shallow depths and grab the daggerboards and rudders as they slice by, just to amuse themselves. You escape and don’t look back.

Another reach, another beat, another triangle, a finish, and a blast reach back to the club. You pull yourself onto the dock and just lay down. You’ve made it. And you just start laughing because you know you get to do it all over again. But only after lunch and a short nap on the pool deck.

This year’s fleet contained representatives from six countries and was sailed by the current SCIRA Commodore and four past SCIRA Commodores. Whether first timer or past commodore, everyone is treated like visiting royalty and even visiting retired Snipe super crews find themselves enjoying the many fringe benefits.

The young team from Mexico of Jorge Murrieta and Andres Akle dominated the action on the water. Their Pan Am training program is strict and they are rounding into excellent form. Snipe sailing around the world is undergoing a resurgence based on the participation of top caliber youth sailors and these young gentlemen are emblematic of that process.

But they are also new to the class and so while they have the “serious sailing” well in hand, they have not yet fully appreciated that true Snipe champions also earn their titles by leading the way when it comes to “serious fun”. So next year when they return to defend their titles, mandatory attendance at all social functions followed by the obligatory late night runs to “The Waterloo” will be strictly enforced.

You owe yourself and your Snipe at least one visit to the Royal Nassau Sailing Club and Montagu Bay. This is one of those few things in life where the ends justify the means. Your sailing soul will be enriched forever. Just get here. Oh, and bring along a spare mast. – Story and photos by Fried Elliott


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