Bittersweet ending for Benn Smith in National Championship swansong
Benn Smith expressed mixed emotions after making his final appearance at the ICSA Men’s Open Single-handed National Championship in Newport, Rhode Island at the weekend.
The College of Charleston senior sailor placed an impressive sixth among the 41-boat Laser fleet, with a best finish of second in the 14-race series.
Smith said the event was “bittersweet”.
“College nationals was a good event and very bittersweet with it being my last single-handed nationals in college as a senior,” he added.“It was very different as usually you have to qualify. But due to Covid they got rid of the qualifiers and made it an open event, which led to far more sailors then usual and made it very important to stay consistent and keep the big scores out of the score sheet.”
The two-day regatta featured the best college sailors in the United States and was contested in favourable 15-20 knot breezes.
Smith was in contention for a spot on the podium at the halfway stage of the championship but lost precious ground in the standings after crossing the start line early and had to restart in the fourth race on the second and final day of racing.
It proved to be a costly error which all but ended his bid to secure a podium finish in his final appearance at the championship.
“After this it was a stretch to place on the podium,” said Smith, who represented Bermuda in the Laser dinghy at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
“Overall, I believe that the regatta was a decent event even though I had the potential to do better if it wasn’t for a couple inconsistent races.
“Something unique to college sailing is that you don’t get to drop your worst scores which would have helped me due to this bad race.”
Smith’s impressive display has helped his college in their bid to win the Fowle Trophy awarded to the overall top college.
“This regatta helps us towards winning the coveted Fowle Trophy as it adds up all the places from each of the five national championships,” he said. “And with both the female [Kelly Arrindell] from my college having a good event here and me having a decent event helps us in achieving this goal of the team.”
Arrindell placed fifth in the ICSA Women’s Open Singlehanded National Championship also held at the weekend.