Fleet Development Series – Fleet 35, Phoenix Arizona

An Interview with Fleet Captain Bill Snuffer

by Andrew Kerr


Fleet #35 in Arizona and New Mexico is a fleet that is developing good class racing in the region. On Lake Pleasant in Arizona they regularly get 6 boats on the line and road warrior Steve Quant from New Mexico very often races in the fleet.


Dale Zorbel and his team of Spencer Winters and Steve Landis came to the 2004 Nationals in Long Beach and other teams from AZ and New Mexico have attended championships in the past.


The Arizona Yacht club‘s annual birthday regatta has attracted good size S20 fleets for many years. Andrew Kerr talked to fleet 35 Captain Bill Snuffer about the fleet and area and where he thought the S20 fleet was headed in the future.


AK: Tell us about some of the history of fleet 35:


Bill Snuffer:  Two years ago I researched various sail boats and decided on a S20.  I had owned a Lido 14 back in the early 70’s and remembered seeing a S20 in a boat show.  At the time there was only one S20 racing (Dale Zorbel) in the Arizona Yacht Club PHRF Spin class.  I purchased #786 from Rick Denny of Mission Bay YC and began learning to race in the AYC 2003 Spring Series.


 The first weekend we were out racing with the beginner fleet and had Darrell Diehl on board. Darrell had is own S20 at home but had not raced it in over ten years.  He was retiring soon and planned on racing in the 2003 Fall Series.  We discussed how much fun it would be if we could get a few more Santana’s on the line and form a fleet.  As we raced that spring, the eye catching lines and beauty of the Santana 20’s on the water began generating interest.  By the 2003 Fall series we had 4 boats registered including Frank Putman’s Mission Bay YC  purchase of another California import.  This fall series we moved up to six members with the most notable addition of past AYC Commodore Martin Lorch a two-time AYC Champion.     


AK: How do you see the region & fleet developing and what role do you think the National class can play in this?



Bill Snuffer: The interest is high in the Phoenix area and the S20’s are really making their mark.  There are currently two S20’s for sale at Lake Pleasant and I get one or two inquiries a month from people interested in finding out about our boat and the one design racing.  The AYC has two other one design fleets in Catalina 20, Thistle classes. The Santana 20 really fits nicely in this line up.  Last January, at the AYC Birthday Regatta, Fleet 35 was lucky to have Phillip Infelise come put on a clinic for us.  It was of great interest and help to us all.  We hope to have another clinic at next January Birthday.  We welcome all S20 sailors to come over and join the fun.  It seems that the more boats we get on the line the greater the interest levels for the Class and Fleet 35.  The National class can help by continuing to promote attendance at our local event as well as giving help through clinics.


AK: Your annual Birthday regatta has attracted a good fleet for a long time – tell us about the event. What should a prospective first time team expect?


Bill Snuffer: This past Birthday Regatta we had S20’s come from New Mexico, Colorado, and Oklahoma and raced one design for the first time in several years.  This time around we are getting a lot of interest from  California and Oregon and hope to start 15 boats on the line.  The 45th AYC Birthday Regatta and Leukemia Cup is a great event with over 100 boats racing in about 10 classes.  Our weather is super in January with lots of sunshine and good winds.  The Club puts on a fine show Saturday night after the racing with lots of food and drinks.  There is also a large charity auction benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  This past Regatta over $20,000 was raised. In addition Fleet 35 had a dinner party at my house on Friday night allowing for lots of questions and idea exchanges.


AK: Steve Quant from NM has long been a road warrior and Dale Zorbel and his team came to Long Beach. Tell us about these teams and how many boats do you think may come to Eugene for the Nationals?


Bill Snuffer: Steve Quant has won the last three Birthday Regatta racing in PHRF Spin Class beating J24’s, Merit 25’s and the like.  I think the PRHF Spin class breathed a collective sigh of relief when Steve came over and took on the S20 class.  First again! Darrell Diehl was going to Nationals this past summer when crew problems 86ed him. 

I think you can expect 2 to 3 AZ boats this next year.


AK: Former class president Phillip Infelise attended this year’s birthday regatta and reported great camaraderie in the fleet. What are you doing to create this?


Bill Snuffer: We share ideas and answer questions.  There are no secrets.  We had a get together at the lake and went over each others boats and had a lot of for getting to know each other.  We also meet before each month’s AYC member meetings and discuss racing and the boats.  This past AYC Championship was raced using the Fleet 35 boats for the first time in anybodies memory.  


AK: Thanks Bill, we appreciate your time and efforts.