Benn Smith secures podium finish at Singlehanded Championships
Benn Smith produced one of his best-ever displays competing overseas at the International Laser Class Association and US Singlehanded Championship in Norfolk, Virginia at the weekend.
The Bermudian sailor placed a remarkable second among the 49 entries in the Laser Standard fleet to underline his potential.
Smith posted an impressive five top three finishes, with a best showing of first in the penultimate race of the eight-race series, on the way to clinching the silver medal.
He finished four points behind winner Rob Hallawell (USA) in the standings, with Humberto Porrata (USA) rounding off the podium a further 16 points back.
“It was a good result with a good fleet,” Smith told The Royal Gazette. “This is one of my best results in an international event of this calibre.”
The 21-year-old led going into the final race but was ultimately pipped by Hallawell for the top spot on the podium.
“I was winning coming into the final race but was unsure about points,” Smith added.
“Only after the fact did I know about me leading going into the last race.”
The son of Malcolm Smith, the multiple Sunfish world champion and Pan American Games silver medal winner, thrived in a range of conditions throughout the regatta.
“The conditions on the first two days were light and variable with high amounts of current which lends itself to me because of my experience in sailing in current the past four years in Charleston,” Smith said. “The final day was medium breeze with some big puffs and great sailing.”
The regatta was held from June 17 to 20 and jointly organised by the Norfolk Yacht and Country Club, Big Blue Sailing Academy at Old Dominion University and the Lower Chesapeake Laser Fleet 12.
Meanwhile, Smith’s solid display at the weekend has bolstered his chances of securing the sole qualifying spot up for grabs for the inaugural Junior Pan American Games.
“It definitely shows progress forward as I work towards getting qualified for the next Pan American Games,” he said. “I can definitely see progress being made towards my goals.”
Smith and compatriot Campbell Patton are competing against each other in a three-event qualifier for the right to represent Bermuda in the Laser at the inaugural Junior Pan American Games to be held in Cali, Colombia, from September 9 to 19.