Laser ace Benn Smith second at US National Championships
Benn Smith left his mark after securing a podium finish at the International Laser Class Association US National Championships in Long Beach, New Jersey, at the weekend.
The 22-year-old sailor claimed the silver medal in the ILCA 7 division at the regatta, jointly hosted by the Brant Beach Yacht Club and Brant Beach Sailing Foundation.
Smith was a model of consistency as he posted eight top-three finishes, with a best of second, in the ten-race series contested in Little Egg Harbour Bay from last Friday to Sunday.
It is the third time the Olympic hopeful has competed at the regatta and second successive year he has finished second in ILCA 7 fleet.
“Last year I came very close to winning but ended up in second place,” Smith told The Royal Gazette. “This year I had one of the most consistent regattas I have ever done. All my races besides two were in the top four.”
Smith thrived in the favourable conditions. “The regatta was mostly medium wind and flat water, which played to my strengths,” he added.
The sailor’s different strategy also paid dividends. “I really took a different approach at this regatta to get consistently good starts, which doesn’t necessarily mean winning the line every time, but ensuring I’m starting in a position where if I was not winning off the line I would still be able to be in play for a top-three result,” he explained.
“This was a mental shift I took in comparison to my previous two regattas, which I did not place well in.”
Smith went into the regatta fresh off competing at the ILCA North American Championship in Ontario, Canada, and Atlantic Coast Championships in Larchmont, New York, where he placed 20th and eighth — on the latter occasion playing second fiddle to compatriot Campbell Patton.
“It is great to have a good finish to finish off the string of three regattas I have competed in and hopefully I can keep working towards our January qualifier for the Pan American Games.”
Clay Johnson, of the United States, won the gold, and compatriot Peter Hurley bronze to round off the podium in the ILCA 7 fleet.
Smith was among a trio of Bermudian sailors competing at the championships, which also included Christopher Adderley and Sam Redburn, who placed 21st and 25th in the ILCA 7 and ILCA 4 divisions respectively.