Interview with Alfredo González, World Snipe Champion 2022
ZS: I know you sail a lot in different classes, from the big Swan 42 boats, to sports boats and the Snipe, so I guess you are very busy. How did you prepare for the World Cup? Have you sailed with other Spanish teams?
Yes, the truth is that I sail in many different classes, from classic boats to competing with the Foil, I love everything, I do not position myself for any, everything has its essence, especially competition is what I am most passionate about.
Fortunately, where I work are all “keel” boat projects, so the style of moving around the race course is very similar to that of the Snipe.
ZS: Do you think it’s an advantage to sail full time on different boat and then jump on your Snipe, or was it difficult to find the right feel with the Snipe?
During the World Cups in Denmark 2011 and Spain 2017, Cristian and I were super prepared in the snipe class, we dedicated a lot of time to it, we were really fit, but we couldn’t win. I do not consider myself a talent in the world of sailing, therefore, and in this way I answer the question is that professional sailing and sailing in projects where they are born to win make you understand in some way how to compete.
For this world championship I was prepared to “win”, although there were really many crews who understand the Snipe better than me, such as XANDI, ERNESTO, HENRIQUE, BRUNO, SAM and the great revelation of the world snipe JULIANA, in addition to many who I am left behind (forgive the crew that I did not name).
I told Cristian 6 months before the world championship that we were not going, because the qualifier for the world championship coincided with the ORC world championship of a professional sailing project, he was very disappointed and asked both the SCIRA and my national federation for a technical position , but none of the options could help us.
So 1 month before I decided to go to the world championships, when I told Cristian he got to the top with the GYM we decided to lose some weight and stay at 154kg, which is how we ran in the world championships. First we went to CADIZ with very little preparation with the sole objective of qualifying and fortunately we managed to win there and also win the national ranking.
So after being classified all our efforts were focused on the material, our sports psychologist Marta Morales and deciding to hire a coach with a philosophy of the “new” competition (Carlos Llamas).
ZS: How many years have you been sailing on the Snipe? How long have you been sailing with Cristian Sánchez? What are your main victories in the past, before the World Cup? How many Snipe World Cups have you sailed together?
I started sailing a snipe when I was 14 years old as a crew member, so I have been in the class for 22 years (I had a few years without sailing because of the 49er and 470 Olympic campaigns) Cristian and I have been together for about 13 years, it is incredible that I have lasted so long!!! hahaha
Unfortunately we never had important class victories because our goals were always set for the world championships, which we always considered to be the most important thing.
I do have good memories when Juniors or when we finished 2nd in the international open in villaGarcía (ESP) (it was like a world championship in terms of the entry list)
ZS: Did you have a coach or a local expert in Cascais?
Yes, I managed to contact Carlos Llamas, he was already a snipist, he knew the class a lot, he was European champion and runner-up in the world, he was also a crew member of the most important legend of the national snipe D.Felix Gancedo, both investigated a lot about the class.
Carlos knew me from my training in the 49er, he saw me racing a lot on weekends in the J70 class, so he knew my strengths and weaknesses. The contact with us and both Cristian and I knew that he was the person we needed. Above all, what I liked the most about the first contact was when he told me that “I was going to WIN, not to finish third.”
He had sailed a lot in Portugal and I had also sailed with the 470 since it was the home of our trainer ALVARO MARHIÑO (The one with the 470).
ZS: What was the most important factor for winning the World Cup? Can you describe your week in Cascais and how you managed this long week of sailing? What were your expectations at the start of the regatta and your day-to-day strategy?
FIRST we went to Cascáis two weeks before, we were with Carlos preparing all the material, we did it in 4 days from “sun to sun” here I have to thank Carlos for the intensity he put into it, I also thank the Cuban team and 3 local teams that were there our willingness to train (mainly Pedro the Cuban and the Portuguese Barreto and his wife) Later we returned to Lanzarote to rest to face the world championship “WINNING”.
The strategy was clear, take a daily average of 5 points.
I told Carlos We knew who the most important rivals were going to be in that event and so it was excepting the Belgian SAM+CREW, the Brazilian Juniho +CREW who didn’t know how well they dribble and also Juliana, these “machines” had left our list.
Weeks before we reviewed the World Cup rankings and we saw that with an average of 5 points we could win, so all the psychological preparation was there. I have to say that in many regattas we had the option to “WIN” regattas and Cristian stopped me to “guarantee averages among the 5”, simply because of the strategy. The big surprise was the penultimate day when complying with the average and even lowering it, we arrived third on land, with only 1 regatta left for the next day, so we realized that we had made a mistake, we never counted that with strong winds the averages go down because those of us who led were always the same. Even so, we were never alarmed, strange things were heard on land like that the Spaniards were going to work as a team to win, so the next morning we gathered all the Spaniards together and our coach told everyone that we had come to win this World Cup fairly without any outside help. I loved that moment and I have to confess that it gave us even more confidence to attack in the water.
With one regatta to go we had already guaranteed the podium but it’s not what we wanted.
So on the last day we had to put in 6 boats for ERNERSTO – TOCKE and only 1 for XANDI-KIELING, and everything was played in a single round.
The strategy was clear, we matched in the pre-start with the boat USA and then we had to win the leg against BRA, we achieved it with some wind conditions that we love, with an offshore wind, I must admit that this time it got very expensive for us but this time we were very prepared for the opportunity and we took it.
ZS: Can you describe your equipment (boats, mast, sails)?
BOAT: SINERGIA (Boat built in MURCIA-ESP)
MAST: Standard Sidewinder (stock, nothing custom)
SAILS: ZAOLI SAILS, M10 series design (materials with different weights) I’ve been with them for about 14 years, they’ve supported me a lot, they always trusted that one day we would be world champions and that’s how it was. From here I send a big hug to the entire Zaoli family and especially to its owner, friend and also a snipist BEPPE ZAOLI.
ZS: “Secret numbers”?
They will think that I do not want to give them, but we made our snipe a “hybrid” between a 470, with things of the j70 class and tensions much higher than those that are normally carried with a boat designed to sail with those harshness, just like the sails.
The main numbers are 5 steps starting at a rake of 662 with very little wind up to a rake of 640 with a lot of wind. Tensions between 24 and 31 of shrouds and 16 of stay.
ZS: Do you have someone you dedicate your World Cup victory to?
Yes, to the mother of my daughter Eugenia, she is the one who has suffered all my “madness” from the Snipe for many years and the competition in other types of boats, I will be grateful to her all my life.
ZS: Your programs for the future?
Now I am working as a coach with the Spanish 470 Olympic team, I sail in 4 professional sailing projects and do local snipe regattas.
The idea will be to prepare for the World Cup in PUERTO MADEROS in ARGENTINA for the 2024 World Cup since it is a complex regatta course for us, I have already been racing there and I know perfectly well how competitive it will be, also taking into account local sailors.
ZS: Were you satisfied with the performance of the boat?
Yes a lot. Above all, the good thing he had in this world championship was his versatility in all condition and winds. The speed was always good in any type of condition.
ZS: What were the best conditions for you?
With medium wind upwind!! Then we were also fast on the windy conditions.
ZS: How much did the new sails help you?
They helped me a lot! Communication with Beppe Zaoli has always been very good for a long time, I find it very easy to work with this sailmaker, it always adapts quickly to changes and that is very good. We made small changes to an already highly elaborated model. The snipe has the great possibility that its regulations allow two sets of sails during a championship, hence the importance of a good sailmaker that knows how to adapt to small details in the regatta field that you are going to compete in.
ZS: Can you tell us what centering you used with the new Zaoli sail set?
The Zaoli sails have a great strong point and they are the materials. We have realized that depending on the wind condition, the grammage is very important, Beppe Zaoli usually makes us very, very good combinations.
ZS: What are the strengths of the relationship you have with the candle manufacturer Zaoli?
The strengths are undoubtedly the relationship I have with Beppe ZAOLI, he is a snipist, so it is a class that he loves