PHOTOGALLERY My name is Snipe and I say, “Obsolete to whom???”


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2015 Snipe Worlds - Talamone. Italy © Matias Capizzano
2015 Snipe Worlds – Talamone. Italy
© Matias Capizzano

Some consider the Snipe, the mythical “snipe,” to be an obsolete boat, heavy, and capable of providing little excitement, given the lack of spinnakers and trapezes. Nothing could be more false. The Snipe class is more alive than ever, and you only have to look at this stunning gallery by Argentine photographer Matias Capizzano to see that. We are at the Junior Worlds in Talamone, underway these days (the Open Worlds will be staged from the 19th to the 26th, also at the same location). Trust us, there is no shortage of excitement (read more: Enjoy the viewing.


A radical departure from the tradition of the sailing racing world occurred in Sarasota, Florida, in March 1931, when “Rudder” publisher Bill Crosby attended a meeting of the Florida West Coast Racing Association.

stylizationIn response to a request to create a class of racing boats transportable on trolleys, Crosby promised to initiate this Class by drawing and publishing plans of such a boat in his magazine. The name Snipe was chosen in keeping with “Rudder” magazine’s custom of naming all its designs after seabirds and waterfowl, and the Snipe plans appeared in the July issue of “Rudder,” which was quickly sold out.
By early September there were reports of boats already finished according to drawings: the first was that of a 14-year-old boy, Jimmy Brown of Pass Christian, Mississippi, who had built the boat with the help of his father.
From the beginning the owners asked that a National Class be formed, and a method of registration by numbering the boats was put in place so that owners who lived not far from each other could contact each other. Jimmy Brown was given No. 1 (see photo below courtesy Sherry Welch). By May 1932, 150 boats had been registered, and racing spread as many of the major yacht clubs recognized the Class and officially gave it a start. In November 1932 the Snipe Class International Racing Association (SCIRA) was formed with Dr.Hub E.IsAacks of Dallas-Texas-as Commodore. The constitution and regulations were drafted and the first rule book was published. By the end of the year there were 250 numbered boats, and Dallas was awarded the first recognized fleet, which is still in existence today. The first fleet outside the United States was established in March 1933 in Dover, England. In July 1936 the Class gained recognition as the largest racing boat class in the world, with fleets in every country.

adelaide2Although the World Championship has been run since 1934, it was not until 1946 that this championship became truly international. This event was held on Chautauqua Lake, New York, with competitors from Brazil, Newfoundland, Portugal and Switzerland as well as many parts of the United States. This had a major impact on the class, and it was decided that international competitions would be promoted. Commodore Charles Heinzerling announced that he would design a separate trophy for the U.S. Champion, thus leaving the Hub Isaaks Trophy for truly international competition.

Dr. Martin Dupan, representative of Switzerland, was so impressed with the Chautauqua Championship. who became the promoter of the first World Championship to take place outside the U.S. It was held in 1947 in Geneva, Switzerland, with Ted Wells of the United States winning over champions from 13 nations. In 1949 it was decided to hold the World Championship and the Hemisphere Championship in alternating years. The Board of Governors purchased the Snipe plans from “Rudder” magazine in 1948 and the class was associated in 1954. In 1958 the Snipe received recognition from the I.Y.R.U. as an International Class.

The boat was designed as a 15-foot, 6-inch angled keel, adjusted to the standard of 16-foot wooden planks, and was designed for easy construction at home (so simple that a schoolboy could have built it). The original sail of 100 square feet, was increased to 116 square feet, with the introduction of the jib overlapping the mainsail that replaced the small jib in 1932. Normally the sail area is 128 square feet between the mainsail and the overlapping jib. Spinnaker is not allowed. The keel has remained essentially unchanged throughout the history of the class with only minor variations due to reduced tolerances. The biggest change made in one fell swoop during the 50-year history of the class was the reduction in weight from 425 pounds to 381 pounds in the early 1970s.

startEarly Snipes were built with wooden boards, but through the years plywood and fiberglass were accepted as construction materials. Most boats are now built by professionals and are made of fiberglass, but plank wood and plywood are still used, and amateurs can build boats from the plans obtainable from the S.C.I.R.A. Office or purchase fiberglass boats in kits to be finished on their own. All boats must be measured and carry the S.C.I.R.A. sticker mark in S.C.I.R.A. competitions (from



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