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Snipe Adds Asymmetrical Spinnaker

Published on April 1st, 2015

Buford, GA (April 1, 2015) – After 81 years of poling out the jib downwind, the US Snipe Class has announced that it will make an asymmetrical spinnaker legal beginning April 1, 2016.

“We’ve given this a lot of thought,” said Brainard Cooper, US National Secretary. “I’m sure all the sailors will fight the change, but we felt it was best for the longevity of the class.”

The new spinnaker will be flown from the masthead, which will require a new stiffer rig (and possibly running backstays). A prototype has already been tested at the site of the 2015 Nationals (Mission Bay, California). On a recent weekday afternoon, Eric Heim and George Szabo of Quantum Sails went out together and quickly jumped 30337 onto a plane.

“There’s no way the two of us could ever go so fast together without this sail,” said George, a five-time National champion, as the pair pulled the boat up the ramp after sailing. “But it’s a lot more work too. I think I’ll go back to model boat racing.”

By doubling the existing sail area, the new spinnaker adds a lot of power to the boat. Detractors complain it will ruin the traditional fun of tactical downwind sailing. “This is really bad for the class,” said Carol Cronin, one of the smallest skippers in the fleet. “Now all the big boys will plane over the top of us. Though I’m sure my crew Kim Couranz will figure out how to hoist this thing faster than any other supercrew.”

Another concern is cost, but Andrew Pimental, CEO of Jibetech, the US builder, points out that money and weight will be saved by ditching the whisker pole.

“No more big fat expensive shockcord, and no more trying to figure out the perfect height and location for that stupid block on the mast,” he gloated. “Now bad sets and jibes can be blamed on the crew again!”

One practical concern is where to store the large sail when not in use. The obvious location is the bow tank, but current rules restrict access to that watertight compartment. A bow scoop is being considered as a possible unintended consequence.

Another unintended consequence may be the food bill of crews, which is predicted to rise sharply. Unless they gain a significant amount of weight, the large sail will likely suck most of them right through the block on a windy day.

“The inmates are running the Snipe asylum,” said US Class Executive Administrator Danielle Richards, shaking her head. “But we’re going along with it for now.”

Perennial class champion Peter Commette is excited by the fresh challenge. “I’ve got a lot of experience with these sails from the E-Scow, so I’ve already ordered one to try.”

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