A few weeks ago, I went Snipe racing in Newport—which is way more special than it might sound. It’s been five years since Kim and I won the Snipe Women’s Worlds on Narragansett Bay. And even though both our three-boat fleet and the occasion (IYAC’s Monday Night Series) might seem much less impressive, it was still a very significant night for me: the first time the Narragansett Bay Fleet 17 has organized evening racing since 1999!
When I first started crewing for Ed Adams in 1990, Snipes were still a regular part of the weekly Newport racing scene. As I remember, there were about six or seven boats that got out one evening each week—and of course Ed beat them all handily.
I thought summer evenings would be an ongoing part of my Snipe addiction, but by 1991 the local fleet had faded away. Instead Snipe sailing became a travel sport, and I happily drove or even flew to regattas around the world to sail with a variety of skippers.
In 1999, now a veteran of worldwide Snipe-induced regatta travel, I bought a boat and badgered all the other local Snipe sailors into getting out for some evening racing. I still remember what I yelled out when we crossed the starting line with four other boats: “Look at us, we’re FLEET RACING again!”
But a few nights of fleet racing do not a tradition make, and due to many factors our tiny fleet soon faded away once more.
After I retired from Olympic sailing, I bought a new Snipe and teamed up with Kim. Her local fleet in Annapolis was growing again, and even though it was an eight-hour tow each way, I adopted it as my “local.” But I also reminisced with anyone who would listen about the unique joy of summer evenings on Narragansett Bay; sailing back into a sunset-tinted Newport Harbor, salty and refreshed, with only a short drive back to my own bed.
This year, thanks to a few key people, we finally made it happen again. On a June evening, we joined the very casual Monday night “scene” and had our own start, after the VXOnes and Thistles. Again, I whooped and hollered as we first crossed the starting line with two other boats—and again when Jensen McTighe, my crew, told me he was born in 1999.
Of course, one evening of sailing still does not make a tradition… but we’re just getting started. Want to join us for the new/old local version of Serious Sailing, Serious Fun? Send me an email. You don’t have to be an expert Snipe sailor, just eager to learn and available after work on Mondays. Meanwhile, thanks for reading—and I hope you’re enjoying summer as much as I am.