Snipe USA

Atlanta Halloween Writeup

October 31
13:04 2008

All that is Halloween, plus wind!!!!! The dates October 24 – 26, 2008 will be fondly remembered for a long time. I can not remember a more enjoyable regatta.

Although we ended up with only 47 snipes sailing, the quality of the participants was amazing! There were participants from 14 different fleets, from 11 states, plus Sweden! Represented were 2 members of the present Snipe World Team, 3 former members of national Olympic sailing teams, a former Snipe junior National Champion and in various classes, former national champions, North American champion, and former world champion. There were 9 former and one present Snipe District Governors, 3 former SCIRA International or US Governors, the present Secretary General for the Western Hemisphere and Orient, the past and future US National Secretary for SCIRA, the USSA Chairman of the Judges Training and Testing Committee, 3 members of SCIRA Board of Directors, the SCIRA representative to ISAF, the Chairman and Vice chairman of the International Rules Committee…not bad for a lake our size!!

We had two of the top sailors in the world sharing their racing knowledge with us. Greg Fisher of Annapolis, grew up in snipes and won 4 Halloween regattas, has gone on to become a top sail maker, first with his loft and now with North Sails. Among his other achievements, he is the present J22 World Champion as well as the Thistle National Champion. He was second this year in the Interlake Nationals and the Thistle Midwinters West. He is a past winner in the Lightening North Americans, the Flying Scott North Americans, the Highlander Nationals, the Johnson 18 Nationals, the Y-Flyer Midwinters, the Snipe Don Q. He was Chair of the One Design Council for US Sailing and the Championship of Champions Committee and a member of the Van Allen Clark Sportsmanship Committee. In addition, he is a great teacher and a role model for us all in the qualities we want in a winner.

Pete Commette, also a former Halloween winner, is from Ft. Lauderdale. He is a present member of the Snipe World Team; he was 3rd in the 2008 Snipe Worlds. He is a past winner of the Snipe North Americans, the Laser Worlds, the Finn North Americans and the O’Day Nationals. He has represented the US in the Pan American Games and the Olympics.

It all started early Friday. Originally, an on-the-water clinic was scheduled during the afternoon with Greg producing a video, but a cool drizzle made a nice cozy chat in the adult lounge seem preferable. Greg and Peter both led part of the discussions, with Peter awing our sailors with technical knowledge and a string of numbers that left us realizing that snipe sailing had a level we had never considered. No wonder he won the regatta!

After an excellent dinner we had a Halloween party for the kids. A magician and costume contest left them quite satisfied, even though the trick or treating at the cabins was also cancelled by the rain. After that Greg led a racing clinic that could be used by all class sailboats. Many people told me afterwards that it was more helpful than anything they had ever heard or read. We were ready to go sailing!

The next morning we awoke to find that the rain was gone, the sun was shining, and it was blowing!! Three of the smallest skippers decided that there was just a little too much wind for them, but six snipe juniors sailed the three races.

Sally Williams and Caroline Schmidt won the overall award as the top finishing boat with junior skipper and crew, followed by Arseniy Avery with Taylor Hickey crewing. (As Taylor had never been in a sailboat before, they had quite an expected struggle with the high winds in both the morning and afternoon races. Hats off to them for their effort!!!).

Max Irvine with John crewing won the mixed team trophy, followed by Lauren McLean with Clayton Dixon crewing, Andrew White, Jr., with his dad crewing, and Woody McLean with Bruno Mello crewing. Good job, all of you!!!!

Rarely is watching a sailboat race exciting, but the races Saturday afternoon were certainly an exception. Boats over, skippers abandoning ship, equipment failing – the race committee and volunteer rescue boats did not have the nice relaxing afternoon they were expecting. I am so pleased that we had adequate rescue personnel so that not only was no one hurt or lost, but none had such a traumatic experience that they will give up. THANKS!

Before supper the traditional hot buttered rum was served in great mugs, along with homemade hors d’oeuvres. Next was the District 4 meeting where we made plans to host the 2009 Snipe National Championship in Pennsacola, FL next summer. Richard Trice outdid himself with a dinner many said was the best ever. After a great dinner, we did the traditional Halloween things …sharing ideas from other fleets, renewing old friendships, admiring original costumes (how many Joe the Plumber are there really?), dancing despite exhaustion…in short, the part of Halloween that you can count on year after year.

Sunday morning there was still wind, but not the challenge we had Saturday. Happy and tired, we went to lunch and the award ceremony where items donated by our sponsors Gill NA, APS, Layline, North Sails, Quantum sails, VIP Decals, and Coral Reef Sailing Apparel, were given out to special people and names drawn from the pumpkin. Recognized were the person who came to the earliest Halloween (Dan Williams of Chattanooga, who was at the very first some 55 years ago); the person sailing who came to the earliest Halloween (John Muhlhausen who came to the second Halloween); Rachel Cline of Chattanooga who at eight was the youngest sailor in the regular races; and her father Scotty Cline who was sailing in his 42nd consecutive Halloween!

Then the racing trophies were awarded. Andrew White, Jr., a very good Opti sailor from Hermitage, PA won both the perpetual trophy for top Goblin and the Pember trophy for top finishing junior. He is the son of Andrew Sr., a lost snipe sailor returning to the flock, and the grandson of long time snipe sailor Larry White who started the US high school sailing program and developed it for over 1500 schools. His achievement was all the more amazing as, while he was in the lead, the jib of his chartered boat blew out totally two legs from the finish. The cover of the mainsheet also separated so he could not trim his remaining sail. Still he limped to the finish line. He did a complete re-rig between the two races; even though no boats were still in sight, he went on out for the next race, which he won!

The Victoria Norwood trophy for the top finishing female went again to Tarasa Davis, who with crew Elliot Newnham finished 8th. John Muhlhausen won the trophy for top Grand Master (over 65) – and David wants to be sure you notice that his 5th beat his Dad’s very impressive 9th! Don Hackbarth continued his stranglehold on the Hackbarth Trophy as his 4th cinched his 3rd straight year as top Master. John and Leslie Irvine’s 2nd made them easily the top finishing married couple sailing together. With 8 of the top finishes belonging either to our fleet members or to a kid who grew up here, Fleet 330 is understandably very proud of this regatta. Thanks to the huge number of people who contributed effort and ideas to its success!

See YOU next year????


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