2017-10-12 / News

Benjamin wins national championship


Olympian Steve Benjamin sails a Sonar for the first time in competition during U.S. Sailing’s Championship of Champions in Oyster Bay, N.Y. Despite his inexperience on the keelboat, the part-time Jamestowner won the regatta. 
U.S. SAILING Olympian Steve Benjamin sails a Sonar for the first time in competition during U.S. Sailing’s Championship of Champions in Oyster Bay, N.Y. Despite his inexperience on the keelboat, the part-time Jamestowner won the regatta. U.S. SAILING In a unique test of skill and teamwork, Etchells world champion Steve Benjamin and his crew Phil Trinter and Christopher Larson won the 2017 U.S. Sailing Championship of Champions in Oyster Bay, N.Y.

Thirteen one-design champions were challenged over three days aboard the Sonar, a 23- foot keelboat designed in 1979 by Bruce Kirby, designer of the Laser dinghy. In the end, Benjamin’s team outdueled the 2010 champion, Californian Chris Raab, to earn the Jack Brown Trophy for the first time in his illustrious career.

“It was a fantastic conclusion to a wonderful championship,” said Benjamin, a part-time Jamestowner and 1984 Olympian. The 2015 yachtsman of the year is best known locally for helming Spookie on Narragansett Bay.

While 12 of the sailors qualified, including Jamestown native Mike Marshall, U.S. Sailing invites a special guest to compete in the regatta. Benjamin received this year’s nod, making the most of the opportunity with three wins and 10 top-five finishes in the 13 races. This was his first time sailing in the Championship of Champions. (Marshall finished fourth overall.)

“The light air in the first two days was tough-going because you need a lot of patience,” he said. “Once the breeze came in, things got a lot easier.”

The unique championship invites up to 19 one-design sailors who have won a national, North American or world championship in the past year.

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