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Pan American Games dream in the balance

Benn Smith competing for College of Charleston at last week’s In -Conference Regatta.

Benn Smith’s hopes of representing Bermuda at this summer’s Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, now rests in the hands of the event’s organisers.

The 19-year-old sailor missed out on securing automatic qualification for the Games at the final attempt by one spot after placing 21st in a fleet of 33 at February’s Laser South American Championships in Paracas, Peru.

However, there is still a chance he may compete at the Games in the Standard Laser class as the Bermuda Sailing Association has submitted an application on his behalf for one of the universality spots available.

“He [Smith] just came up a little short for automatic qualification,” Martin Siese, the BSA vice-president, said.

“There were other countries that have not yet qualified. There were four spots available and he was the fifth country of the unqualified ones so he just missed out.

“The sailing side of Pan Am Games they allocate a certain number of spots for each fleet but they also have what they call universality spots, which you have to apply for and it’s based on if you participated in all of the qualifying events.

“They also look to try and broaden the participation if there’s a country that has no or very little number of entries. They look to try and use those to broaden the numbers of countries that are in it.

“So we have put in an application to the Pan Am Sailing Federation saying that we think Benn would be deserving of one of these universality spots.

“They put a lot of weight on the guys who would’ve qualified next so hopefully we will be fortunate and have that spot granted in another ten days or so.”

Smith hopes to join siblings Cecilia and Michael Wollmann who will represent the island in the foiling Nacra 17 catamaran.

Cecilia, who represented Bermuda in the Laser Radial at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, is on the helm while her sibling is serving as crew.

The Pan Am Games will be held July 26 to August 11 and will feature 7,000 athletes from 41 nations competing in over 400 events across 39 sports.

Meanwhile, Smith and his College of Charleston Cougars team-mates were crowned overall champions at last week’s In-Conference Regatta hosted by University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Competing in the 420 class, Smith and Laura Masterson won five of the seven-race series en route to capturing the “A” Division title.

Team-mates Ryan Ratliffe and Adrianna Lee won the “B” Division title after making a clean sweep of victories.