North Sails NEWS

Images © Matthew Ditzel


Snipe Duo Jensen McTighe & Andre Guaragna share their first-hand experiences in the Snipe Class at the North Americans in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

© Matthew Ditzel

We caught up with top juniors from this years’ Snipe North Americans, hosted by Ft. Lauderdale Yacht Club. Jensen and Andre were in the heat of battle the entire event, finishing 3rd overall, coming just short of world class sailor Augie Diaz who finished 2nd. Here is what the young team had to say about their experience and the things in life that contribute to their successful Snipe sailing. They have an exciting journey ahead as they are attending the Snipe World Championships in August, held in Spain. This isn’t the first time they will be traveling out of the country to race Snipes, nor will it be their last!

How often do you sail together? How does it contribute to your performance in the Snipe?

“We practice a lot together, but we are both skippers so we do sail on our own quite a bit. We make a good team though and I think we both know each other well enough now that we don’t really need to talk about things, we just do it.”

What was the hardest part about sailing at NA’s?

“On the last day it was very hard to keep up. Staying faster off the wind was so important in the lighter air.”

What was the funniest part of the weekend?

“When we registered we got visors instead of shirts. We rocked the visors on the water, and only when we were in the boat. We think that also contributed to our speed that weekend.”

You used the SW-4 at North Americans. What did you like about it?

“We use both the SW-4 and the PR-3. The SW-4 was the weapon of choice for NA’s because it is versatile, but depending on how much wind we was forecasted it can be a better option to use the PR-3. At North Americans we wanted the most power through the big waves, so we chose the SW-4, which worked great.”

I know the scores were pretty tight on the last day. What were you both thinking going into the last race at North Americans?

“Right before we started, I said we can do this we have just one more race. We’ve been in second the whole regatta, we can do this.” “We didn’t think Augie was going to come after us like he did, and we weren’t expecting it. Coming into the finish it was so close, but we needed more opportunity upwind that would’ve gotten us a few more boat lengths.”

What race at NA’s was the hardest for you?

“In one race we were the first boat to round in front of Ernesto. He wasn’t too close, but he was there and ended up rounding the opposite bottom gate mark at the exact same time as us. We never saw him again after that.”

What are your strengths and weaknesses in the Snipe?

“We are still young and energetic which helps a ton because the Snipe is so physical. We are always pushing to work the boat harder than everyone else. That made us pretty fast at the NA’s. Our weakness would be overall experience, and we get a bit anxious and frustrated when the pressure is on.”

How does it feel to cross the finish line in front of Augie in 4/8 races at NA’s?

“It felt pretty good. One race in particular where we came in 3rd and he got 4th. We were able to pass Augie in the last quarter of the downwind. We looked back and saw his frustration, and thought wow we were pretty fast.”

What things would you consider contributions to your results at NA’s?

“The fact that I live right down the street and sail out here everyday is ideal. We think the same about racing and tactics, and we could stay on the same page both upwind and downwind. We were always in phase with each other, which really helped us maintain our position every race. We made most of our gains downwind in the bigger waves which was a lot of fun and paid off significantly in each race.”

Andre, Now that you’ve had a taste of College Sailing at Jacksonville University, can you tell me what you notice is different about Snipe sailing and competing in college?

“College sailing is completely different than Snipe sailing. College sailing is a lot shorter courses, you have to think about it differently when it comes to tactics. Snipes sail longer courses so it’s the whole race, not just the first shift you have to catch to be ahead. Because Snipe racing is a lot longer, you have to stay focused for longer, and keep in mind the big picture.”


In your opinions, what is the hardest part about sailing Snipes?

“Numbers and measurements, really more about the feel knowing when you are going fast. It’s really about feel when it comes down to it. You know when your set up looks right. There are many things that all add up to make you fast. The hardest part is managing all of the details, but it all starts with initial rig set up. Being able to feel if you are too tight or too loose is really important.”

Are you excited about sailing in the World Championship this year?

“Yes, we are very excited. We feel like we ready to get out there and compete. We feel like we are prepared mentally and physically, and we are going to do well.”

What are your main goals in sailing?

“We want to make the team for the Youth America’s Cup.”

If you had the chance to meet any (pro) sailor of your choice, who would it be and why?

“Ben Ainslie, because he is super successful and driven.”

Contact your local North Sails Snipe Expert for the fastest sails in the class!