Benjamin Starts Strong in Etchells Biscayne Bay Series
Published on December 6th, 2015
The 2016 Etchells Biscayne Bay Series got underway in Miami with 47 teams competing in the Louis Piana Cup on December 5-6. Hosted by Etchells Fleet 20 and the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, the first of the four regatta series was won by Steve Benjamin and his crew Michael Menninger, George Peet, and Norman Berge.
The weather on Saturday was not exactly everyone’s choice, unless you were a duck. Rain streamed down most of the day with mostly light and shifty winds. Though some puffs of ten or twelve knots were seen on the course, the majority of the time saw five to seven knots.
The leader after the first day was Steve Benjamin on Scimitar which had rolled off finishes of 2-1-6. In second were Phil Lotz with Rodrigo Meireles and Eric Doyle with an 11-3-5. Rounding out the top three were Scott Kaufman with Lucas Calabrase and Austin Anderson with a 12-4-9.
After a lackluster first race, Seamus McHugh, sailing with Andy Beadsworth and Simon Fry, worked out the kinks on their brand new boat (SUI 1425) to finish the day with a 6-3.
Sunday dawned with no rain, warm temperatures in high seventies, and a blustery breeze topping 20 knots. Reigning World Champion Jon McClean sailing with Skip Dieball and Jeff Eiber followed their bullet in race three on Saturday, with another bullet in race four.
The breezy conditions led to a few collisions on the day, including the embarrassing feat of ramming the transom of the signal boat, a first for this series. Steve Benjamin mentioned that he took a spin after a port/starboard incident with Seamus. “He could have really smacked us but graciously declined,” observed Benjamin.
Meanwhile, Benjamin took second in race four, giving him the title with a race to spare. Finishing second was Seamus McHugh in that new boat, winning the last race of the day. Rounding out the top three was John McClean.
Steve Benjamin commented, ”It was a stormy day on Saturday with lots of squalls blowing through the race course, which made things pretty challenging shift wise. It was important to pay attention to the cloud influence. The conditions on Sunday were more geographic with sailing the right side towards Key Biscayne Bay paying well.”
Speaking about the quality of competition, Benjamin remarked, “The level of competition in this fleet is probably as high as what we saw at Worlds.”
Report by John Payne.
To qualify for the overall Etchells Biscayne Bay Series (formerly known as “The Jaguar Cup”) prizes, boats must count their place in the Mid-Winters Regatta, and any two of the other three individual regattas (Piana Cup, Sidney Doren Memorial, Florida State Championship).
2016 Etchells Biscayne Bay Series
Louis Piana Cup Regatta – December 5 & 6, 2015
Sidney Doren Memorial Regatta – January 9 & 10, 2016
Florida State Championship – February 6 & 7, 2016
Mid-Winter’s East Regatta – February 26 -28, 2016