Steve Benjamin, representing Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club, has won the 88th National Championship held by Kollegewidgwok Yacht Club at Blue Hill, Maine. With his crew of Chris Larson, Ian Liberty and Brooks Daley aboard A128 Cassidy, Benj posted scores of 6,1,5,4,4,9. Second was Mark Foster from Cedar Point YC in A140 Thistle; third A135 Rascal, Peter Smith of KYC.
It was a fine week for weather, though at times the wind was baffling for the visitors, and local knowledge played a part. Some likened it to lake sailing, with winds coming from directions that were hard to predict. Still, the cream soon came to the top as usual.
Maestro Race Officer Ken Legler set his usual accurate courses within the confines of picturesque Blue Hill Bay, and after two days several yachts were close on points, all with a chance of winning. These included those of Dave Peck, Scott Reichhelm and Mark Foster, members of three families that continue the great tradition of Atlantics being passed down through generations: each skipper’s father was a multiple previous class champion.
In fact, at least 10 of the 33 competing boats had more than one family member in the crew. And for the first time since 1996 a Nationals race was won by a female skipper: Lindsay Doyle, a member of the University of Vermont sailing team, steered A102 Rival with her father Jim crewing.
When it came down to the last championship race, Benj was the most consistent skipper, having finished no lower than sixth place so far. By winning Races 4 and 5 David Peck had a slightly better score after the discard, but had a 16th from the first race that he now needed to lose. No such luck. Benj hunted down Miss April from the start and pushed her down the fleet, the Pecks eventually finishing in 19th place, clinching the title for Cassidy. Mark Foster and Peter Smith followed very close on points, both having a strong last race.
KYC normally has a short midsummer club racing season offering little opportunity for experience in holding big events, but they did a magnificent job with this one. It was a very good week.