Snipe USA

National Secretary

From our National Secretary…

Aloha, fellow Snipe sailors.

My wife Jennifer and I grew up in sailing families racing Blue Jays, Lasers, Fireballs and Atlantics in Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island NY before honing our passion and skills of competitive racing on our respective college sailing teams. Since then, we have skippered and crewed for each other, experiencing some degree of success and adventure, competing in the northeast US, Florida, Michigan, San Francisco and the Western Hemispheres in Japan. We are lucky to be a part of a strong fleet, which is actually two fleets (Winchester and Medford Boat Clubs) that race with each other and typically get 6-10 Snipes on fleet racing starting lines most weekend days during the summer. But our favorite times have involved bringing our son Adam and daughter Kelly up in the Snipe family on the race courses, campgrounds and dancefloors of the northeast (Kelly took her first steps on the porch of the Quassapaug Sailing Center).

Besides Snipes, we make a point of hopping into other classes from time to time. A few years ago, it was Lightnings in an around-the-islands race on Squam Lake in central New Hampshire and a Thistle on Long Island Sound in mid-October. For the past five years, Jennifer and I have raced in the Atlantic Class Nationals. And then it was the Harvard and URI alumnae sailing team regattas in the fall of 2016 – where it was a real trip being at least twice the age of 3/4s of the rest of the sailors. All these experiences reminded me what it feels like to be “the new kid” who either doesn’t know anyone else or places back in the pack. We all should do this more. Then reach out to a new face at our next regatta to help them feel more at home.

While many sail Snipes for the high-end competition (e.g. “serious sailing”) it is my belief that the success of the class rides on the “serious fun” element. Not everyone can be good enough to win a race or regatta, but everyone can contribute to having fun. But it is not a question of “either – or”.

Which leads me to describing a few of my core philosophies which drives how and what I do…

  1. “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country” – John F. Kennedy.

This can apply to countries, or simpler things, like taking the initiative to bring cookies after fleet racing as opposed to wondering why someone else doesn’t do it. Pick whatever level works for you and that you can commit to.

  1. “Always pass on what you have learned” – Yoda.

Everyone likes to improve. Helping others improve leads to growing interest which in turn tends to grow fleets, thereby helping ourselves. A close corollary to this is handing over of the tiller – or boat – to a newbie once in a while. Give them a chance to feel the thrill.

  1. “Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress.” ― Mahatma Gandhi.

Open ocean sailors like open ocean sailing. Lake sailors like smaller sites. This is just one example of discussions that can come from a class that originated in the heartland over 80 years ago, but whose larger fleets are now found on open-water coasts. As I tell the high school robotics team kids that I mentor: “You can object to anything I say, just don’t bring my mother into it”. Together, we can do better than merely co-exist; we can grow.

  1. Leverage energy: People always put more energy into things they have a passion for.

On a local level, hand the baton of fleet captain or regatta chair to someone else and step aside. We may not agree with the outcome but the fresh perspective is usually healthy for the group. On the national level, multiple competing bids for major regattas are now quite rare; potential hosts of these regattas appear to be overwhelmed with all that the class requires. Perhaps we may want to consider loosening some of these rules and guidelines so that local fleets can tailor the regatta to best suite their strengths?

  1. Try a different vegetable: routine can be the first step to getting stale; getting stale can lead to drifting away.

I still feel the excitement of competing at as high a level as I can. However, I have recently discovered the alter-world of wooden “classic” Snipes. The people are not that different. Their passions are of at least equal magnitude though perhaps in orthogonal directions. Their love of the boat and the class is magical. How else can you explain the hours upon hours of intricate toil spent bringing a long un-used object back to life?

 

A boiled-down summary of my job description includes terms like “reporting”, “promoting”, “establishing” and others that relate to the health and well-being of the US class. Since I am not independently wealthy enough to travel to all 37 active fleets in the country, I am significantly (totally?) reliant on members and friends to update me with what is going on in your space, including lending your opinions. Please do not hesitate to do so. I look forward to hearing from you. And I hope we can cross tacks with you soon.

Happy sailing,

Art

e-mail: art.rousmaniere@gmail.com

“A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are made for” – John Shedd

 

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