Carol Cronin and Kim Couranz have been the dominant American female team on the Snipe circuit for nearly a decade now. The Severn Sailing Association duo has claimed five United States Women’s National Championships, several in convincing fashion.
It was only a matter of time before the two longtime friends took things to another level.
Cronin and Couranz showed tremendous consistency in capturing the Snipe Women’s World Championship, held August 14-19 out of Sail Newport. Cronin steered while Couranz trimmed and called tactics as the Severn Sailing Association entry finished fourth or better in all eight races that counted in totaling 27 points.
“We really focused on being steady and consistent, and while we never won a race, our drop race was a seventh so we achieved that consistency goal,” Couranz said.
Cronin-Couranz finished one point ahead of the runner-up team representing Portugal. Skipper Mafalda Pires de Lima, sailing with Buffalo native Kathleen Tocke, won three races and finished second in three others, but was forced to count results of seventh and 12th.
Competition was held on the Narrangansett Bay just north of the Newport Bridge. Wind conditions ranged from 5 to 18 knots during the four days of racing. It all came down to the final day when only one race was held in heavy air.
Anette Melsom Myhre and Janett Krefting of Norway led the regatta with a low score of 23 points going into the last race. While Cronin and Couranz were just one point behind, they elected not to match race the Norwegians. That’s because they were only three points ahead of the Portuguese team.
“We thought the points were too tight to focus on any one boat,” Couranz said. “So we stuck with the game-plan that had worked for the whole regatta: Go out, make smart decisions, sail fast and good results will follow.”
That strategy worked well with the American tandem taking third in decisive race, one place behind Pires de Lima and Tocke. Myhre and Krefting endured a 10th and that wound up being their throwout.
“It’s pretty exciting to win a world championship. Carol and I have been racing Snipes for eight years so it’s really neat to have all our hard work and teamwork pay off,” Couranz said.
Cronin and Couranz have actually been sailing together since 2005, having previously teamed in the J/24 class for a series of Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championships. Their familiarity showed through at Snipe Women’s Worlds as they excelled in all wind conditions – light, medium and heavy.
“Having sailed together for so long, we work really well together as a team. We feel comfortable and confident in whatever conditions we encounter,” Couranz said. “We had a few starts that were not so great and were able to work our way back. There was one race when we rounded the first weather mark in 17th and wound up finishing fourth. Our persistence saved us a lot of points.”
Couranz and Cronin had only competed in one other Snipe Women’s World Championship, placing fifth in 2010 off St. Petersburg, Florida. Cronin recently wrote in Scuttlebutt about the importance of finding a compatible teammate.
“I am lucky enough to sail with Kim Couranz, an incredible teammate and friend. We first met as Snipe crews back in the late 1990s, passing time in the shower line chatting about our skippers’ quirks,” Cronin wrote. “I enjoyed her quick wit and positive outlook, while on the water I admired how hard she hiked.”
Cronin noted the Snipe is a crew-driven boat and those on the helm get too much credit for “doing only about thirty percent of the work.”
“Kim and I first sailed together in 2005, but we really committed to a Snipe program in 2010 and are now recognized as one of the most seasoned teams on the international circuit,” Cronin wrote. “After so many races together we know each other’s weaknesses. We do our best to offset, rather than harp, on them. We also know each other’s many strengths, and in tough situations we remind each other to focus on those and let the rest sort itself out.”
Cronin reached the pinnacle of her sailing career when she skippered the United States entry in Yngling class at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Greece. She works as a freelance writer and graphics designer and lives in Jamestown, Rhode Island.
Couranz is a communications specialist for the Chesapeake Bay office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The longtime Annapolis resident is commodore of Severn Sailing Association and writes a regular column for SpinSheet Magazine.
Two other Severn Sailing Association teams competed in this year’s Snipe Women’s World Championship with the mother-daughter duo of Lisa and Lexi Pline taking 11th in the 32-boat field.
Snipe Women’s World Championship (32 teams)
1, Carol Cronin/Kim Couranz, United States, Severn Sailing Association, 4-3-2-3-4-4-(7)-4-3=27
2, Mafalda Pires de Lima/Kathleen Tocke, Portugal, Clube de Vela Atlantico, 12-7-1-1-2-2-1-(33/ret)-2=28
3, Anette Melsom Myhre/Janett Krefting, Norway, Royan Norwegian Yacht Club, 5-1-3-4-3-3-4-9-(10)=32