Smith still on course for Laser Nationals
Benn Smith completed his mission at the South Atlantic Interscholastic Sailing Association Men’s Single-handed Championship in South Carolina at the weekend.
The Bermudian sailor finished second among a formidable 13-boat fleet boasting 2020 Olympic hopefuls to secure one of three qualifying spots available at the regional qualifier for the Inter- Collegiate Sailing Association Single-handed Nationals in November.
The 19-year-old, who competes for the College of Charleston in South Carolina, managed four top-three finishes in the Olympic class Laser dinghy during the ten-race qualifying series, with a best showing of first in the eighth race.
“The qualifiers are the top end of single-handed college sailing and pretty competitive with many people who are campaigning for Tokyo 2020 taking part in different regional qualifiers,” Smith told The Royal Gazette.
“I’m pretty happy with my performance, as it really does show how much I have improved in the past year.
“Last year I placed seventh and this year I placed second, and there were even more boats competing last year, which is reassuring that all my training and events have been working.”
Racing started in light winds, which filled in a bit after a minor delay.
“The conditions were very light at the start of the day and picked up to about eight knots at the end of the day,” Smith said.
“Everything went smoothly, with the main goal being just to qualify for Nationals.”
Smith’s College of Charleston team-mate, Gerald Williams, won all but two of the races contested to top the leaderboard by a comfortable margin.
Jacksonville’s Jack Gower finished two points adrift of Smith to claim the remaining qualifying spot and round off the men’s podium.
The ICSA Single-handed Nationals will take place on Lake Michigan from November 2 to 4.
“Looking towards the November event, I will be trying to put on about four pounds,” Smith said. “The event is being held on Lake Michigan, which is usually a windy venue.
“Competition there will be very high-calibre, with all Olympic hopefuls competing, but I am hoping to come away with a podium finish.”