SNIPE FLEET 142

Scott Cline, Fleet Captain

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Snipe Fleet 142 at Privateer Yacht Club has a glorious history.  It was the first fleet of boats at PYC and was the largest for many years with as many as 50 boats.  Look at the vintage photos below of wooden masted Snipes at some of the earliest PYC docks.  After those early docks, there was a fan shaped array of rail launches in the vicinity of the present Opti sailing area.  And, the national Snipe organization was run for many years by Buzz and Marge Lamb from their cabin headquarters at PYC.  The local McLaughlin Boat Works built hundreds of Snipes which dominated the World Championships for over 30 years.  And, our own Lloyd Cox built a few, also.  Check out the current national Snipe website:  http://www.snipeus.org  

The Snipe was originally designed by William F. Crosby in 1931 as a small, sporty craft that could be carried about easily on a trailer and yet be capable of sailing in almost any waters from protected inland lakes to the open ocean. She was made 15 ft. 6 in. long so that a builder could plank her with standard 16-ft. boards and thus not be required to pay premium prices for over-length lumber. Beam was set at 5 ft. and draft of hull alone at about 5 in. Snipes may be equipped with either pivoted center-boards or dagger boards, whichever the builder prefers. The rig is a Marconi knockabout with a jib-headed mainsail and an overlapping jib. The total sail area is a little over 113 square feet. The idea throughout was to have a boat that could be built for the minimum amount of money. In line with that thought, no light sails, spinnakers, or extra working jibs can be carried.

Snipes are famous for their speed to windward and their ability to point high. In many cases, they have taken the measure of much larger boats with a great deal more sail area. For heavy weather, the high-crowned deck and small cockpit make a boat that can be driven through almost anything. A good sailor can capsize a Snipe, putting the sail all the way down in the water, and climb out on the centerboard and bring the boat back up again without getting a drop of water inside. A capsized boat can be upright in only a few seconds and on its way again just as if nothing had happened. A Snipe cannot sink.  Watch one endure during an extremely bad squall, under jib alone, with the skipper and crew sitting in the cockpit and the boat filled with water.  It happens.  If properly sailed, with a good heavy center-board, a Snipe is almost noncapsizable.

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