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2024 Snipe Brazilian National Championship Regatta Report

By Trevor Davis and Diego Escobar



In the world of Snipe sailing there are few moments that transcend competition and become iconic. The 74th edition of the Brazilian Snipe Class Championship was one such moment. Imagine the scene: On January 19, 2024, 118 boats began to gather at the Rio de Janeiro Yacht Club—a quintessential location for Brazilian sailing tucked right underneath the Sugar Loaf Mountain and the outstretched arms of Christ the Redeemer. Among the fleet were twenty former world champions, and a dozen more sailors who had placed within the top ten at the last two editions of the worlds. This was arguably the most competitive Snipe regatta in the world this year. We felt incredibly fortunate to be in the middle of this scene. Adding to the spectacle were the likes of Robert Scheidt, a titan Olympian with five medals between the Star and Laser class, who graced the event with his presence and showed the caliber of sailors that the snipe fleet attracts.


The competition was to be a fierce nine race series, stretched out across five long days of racing on the mouth of the Bahia de Guanabara, the same waters that hosted the 2016 Olympic Sailing competition. This venue tested sailors with shifty and strong winds, large rolling swells with steep chop and more dynamic currents than any we have encountered. To find success on the Bahia de Guanabara, you couldn’t just be a specialist in particular conditions, you had to be a well-rounded sailor.




 

For our team, our battle had started long before we got to the starting line. By coordinating logistics such as flights, housing, boat charter, travel visas and registration well in advance, we invested heavily in this event since we knew that if we wanted to perform well in a fleet of this caliber, we could not cut any corners even with limited resources. In addition to the many days we spent training in the states ahead of this event, we allowed ourselves three days before the start of the event to set our charter boat up to our preferences, to get up to speed in the waters where we would be racing and most importantly to acquaint ourselves with our competition who were more than happy to share with us their insights on this challenging venue.

 

Day one of the regatta we saw unstable, light, and tricky conditions. After a slew of general recalls, we got off one race. Despite having a mediocre start in the middle of the line, we were quick to get in phase with the first couple of shifts and recognized a significant current advantage on the left side of the racecourse and found ourselves within the top five at the weather mark. On the downwind we made a few good tactical calls of both pressure and current relief and had great light air boat speed which brought us to the bottom mark in the top three. We battled for the lead for the remainder of the race but missing one final shift at the finish line resulted in us finishing in third. We were elated with our opening race performance and impressed our new Brazilian friends, but knew the regatta was only to get harder from there, especially if we were to survive the qualifying series and move onto the gold fleet after four races.




 

For the rest of the qualifying series, we consistently found ourselves battling in and out of the top ten, having found success with our upwind and downwind boat speed thanks to the many hours we put together between Miami, San Diego, and Annapolis ahead of the event. We went into the final day sitting in ninth overall, ahead of some legendary sailors who we recently would never have dreamed of being able to beat, especially on their home waters. Yet, as the last race of the final series ended, we found ourselves in the twentieth spot, a bittersweet ending to an unforgettable adventure. Some tactical errors related to the management of a large and tightly- packed gold fleet led to our two deep races in the final series which ultimately kept us out of the top ten. In the US Snipe fleet that we are usually in competition with, the faster boats often find it straightforward to work their way through the fleet on superior boat speed, boat handling and shift playing. This made the qualifying series more comfortable for us but when we got to gold fleet and most of the fleet was sailing very strongly, a couple of consecutive errors in positioning and boat-on-boat tactics became very costly. Along these lines, the most valuable element of this regatta for us was the experience of racing in the tightly packed gold fleet which can only otherwise be found at a western hemisphere or world championship.


Looking ahead, we are both now focused on college sailing for the next few months. We will hopefully have many opportunities to carry the lessons we learned from this event to international competitions in the future, the first on the horizon being the Snipe World Championship in Buenos Aires in October. This experience was highly immersive as we were the only American team in this event, and we are very proud of our successful execution of this project, especially after having organized it independently. We achieved our goals of being confident and competitive alongside the very best in the class and making great friends and connections with other active sailors, both of which will contribute to our strength in future championships.


Although we organized this project independently, our competition in this incredible regatta would not have been possible without the generous support of the Annapolis Yacht Club foundation. Their continued support over the years has provided me with many opportunities to follow my deep passion for sailboat racing and represent the Annapolis area on the national and world stages. For this I am immensely grateful.

 

Thank you!

Trevor Davis

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