Smith hits top form in Miami

  • Wet and wild: Benn Smith is competing for a qualifying spot in the Laser class at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer

    Wet and wild: Benn Smith is competing for a qualifying spot in the Laser class at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer

Benn Smith gave his impressive display in the opening races at the Hempel Sailing World Cup in Miami, Florida yesterday the proverbial thumbs up.

The 20-year-old sits in eleventh place in the 40-strong Laser class after producing finishes of nineteenth and tenth in the opening two races of the series.

Smith managed clean starts and generated good boat speed at both ends of the racetrack on Biscayne Bay.

“It was a really good start, consistent,” Smith said. “I had a good start in the first race, but didn’t have a good first beat. I ended up having a really good last downwind and probably passed ten boats at the leeward mark, which really helped my overall score.

“I had a really good start in the second race. I then executed my game plan really well, rounding the top mark in seventh and the bottom mark in third. However, I lost some ground on the last upwind and ended up finishing in tenth.

“The breeze was really up and down. We probably saw a top wind of ten knots and bottom wind of three. It was really up and down and so it really took a lot of focus.”

Smith’s top-ten display in the second race was his best ever at this level.

“It’s the first time I ever got a top-ten result in a Hempel World Cup event, so definitely gains there,” said Smith, who represented Bermuda at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, last summer.

“I have been working with a new coach and can definitely see the benefits from working with him.”

Smith is competing for the sole spot from the North American region for the Olympic Games in Tokyo up for grabs in the Laser class at the regatta.

Spaniard Joaquin Blanco topped the Laser Class standings after the opening two races of the series.

Smith is one of two Bermudians competing at Miami for the right to represent the island at the Olympics.

Rockal Evans is competing in the Finn class where he sits in eighth position in the 14-strong racing fleet after producing finishes of eighth and seventh in the opening two races.

“There were light winds and I had two good starts and managed to stay in front of both Mexico boats,” Evans said. “I just played it safe and smart.”

Caleb Paine, of the United States, is top of the Finn class standings after the opening races. Evans is also competing for the solitary Olympic qualifying spot available in his class and hopes to fulfil a childhood dream of competing at the Olympics in the same class as his late grandfather, Howard Lee, who represented Bermuda in Montreal the Olympic Games in 1976.

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Published Jan 21, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 21, 2020 at 3:42 pm)

Smith hits top form in Miami

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