More than thirty teams representing ten countries are headed to Newport, Rhode Island for the Snipe Women’s World Championship, hosted by Sail Newport. This event has been run biannually since 1994, when it was first held in Tokohama, Japan. Among this edition’s entries are the reining champion, Brazilian sailor Juliana Duque, and the 2016 runners-up, Anette Melsom Mhyre and Janett Krefting, from Oslo, Norway. The fleet is studded with numerous multi-class, champions including Rolex Yachtswomen Cory Sertl, Argentinean Pilar Calabrese, and US Olympians Lynne Shore and Carol Cronin.
This year’s championship has witnessed a rise in participation and has its first ever entry from France. Poland and Canada are returning after a noted absence. The Snipe Class is one of the only non-Olympic, non-youth classes to have a Women’s World Championship. The Women’s Worlds has always attracted high caliber and athletic women, having numerous Olympians at the top of podium including the likes of American Anna Tunnicliffe, Radial and Nacra Olympians, Andrea and Mariana Foglia from Uruguay, and Yngling and Match Racing skipper, Ekaterina Skudina from Russia.
In addition to the Brazilians and Norwegians, top contenders for this year are long time teammates Carol Cronin (Jamestown, RI) and Kim Couranz (Annapolis, MD). The podium at the Women’s Worlds has evaded Cronin in the past, but with this year’s Worlds being in her backyard, it could be her year. She will have to keep her eyes on young Portuguese skipper, Mafalda Pires de Lima, who will be coming straight from competing in the 470 Worlds in Aarhus, Denmark. Pires de Lima beat Cronin and Couranz at last year’s US Women’s Snipe Nationals in Miami, and she will be well accompanied by perennial Snipe champion and double Pan Am Games medalist, Kathleen Tocke, also hailing from Newport.
The youngest skipper on the race course will be Lindsey Baab (Saratoga, CA) a high level Radial sailor and 2018 Collegiate All-American from Brown University. Baab’s older sister, Kaitlyn, recently joined the Class and after placing second at this year’s Miami Women’s Snipe Invite, convinced her sister to come to the Worlds. The Baab sisters spent their summers sailing in Newport as kids and look forward to the challenging conditions on Narragansett Bay. Baab will also meet up again with with Rhode Island, native Rachel Bryer, a former URI skipper who was runner-up at Women’s College Nationals two years in a row.
Baab and Bryer will not be the only new Snipe skippers on the racecourse. Seven skippers are new or retuning to the class after a long absence. Argentinean 470 skipper and US National Optimist Team coach, Pilar Calabrese sailed a Snipe recreationally as a young girl in Mar del Plata and is making her debut at the Championship after only four days training in the boat. Her crew is a US Sailing Team Nacra sailor, Christina Persson (Boston/Ft. Lauderdale) a veteran Snipe crew of two years. Cory Sertl (Jamestown, RI/Rochester, NY) who competed in the Snipe Class for five years in Annapolis in her 20s is also returning. Sertl is sailing with vetran Snipe crew, Martha Parker of Newport fame.
In keeping with World Sailing’s effort to promote more women in the highest levels of sailing competition, the Snipe, the open double-handed dinghy in the Pan American Games, was
recently changed to a mixed event. The Snipe Class has always had a high proportion women relative to other non-Olympic classes. At last year’s windy World Championship in Coruña, Spain, both Duque and Pires de Lima were no strangers to the top of the fleet sailing with male crews. In the 78 boat fleet at the Snipe Master Worlds in Portugal last month, half of Cronin and Couranz’s finishes were in the top 15.
Women’s Snipe teams can sail equally with mixed or men’s teams in light to medium conditions, but it can become a struggle in windy conditions, especially with upwind finishes. The Women’s Worlds offers women the opportunity to sail with their female friends on a more equal playing field. Many male skippers at the highest level of the Class look for lighter weight female skippers to crew for them. World Champion, Augie Diaz is one of these skippers. He says having two skippers in the boat is like having a second pair of eyes. At the Women’s Worlds, many crews find themselves at the helm again.
The four-day regatta commences on Thursday, August 16th. Follow the action.