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Steve Benjamin wins Etchells Florida State Championship

Published on February 5th, 2017

The third regatta in the 4-event Etchells Biscayne Bay Series, the Florida State Championship, was held February 4-5 in Miami, FL. With 43 teams on the line, Steve Benjamin’s Terrapin team rolled a 1-2-1 on day one to take the lead with no races on day two due to light winds.

FSC Champ 1st place

Winning team (from left): Dave Hughes, Michael Menninger, Steve Benjamin, Stuart Childerly (PRO), and Ian Liberty. Photo by John Payne.

Final Results (Top 10 of 43 (3 races)
1. Terrapin, Steve Benjamin / Michael Menninger / Dave Hughes / Ian Liberty , USA – 1 -2 -1 ; 4
2. Gumption3, Kevin Grainger / Max Skelley / Chuck Norris , USA – 8 -6 -5 ; 19
3. Raging Rooster, Peter Duncan / Jud Smith / Andrew Palfry , USA – 12 -1 -7 ; 20
4. Tiburon, Mark Watson / Dirk Kneulman / Rob Scrivenor / Andreas Josenhans , USA – 6 -7 -8 ; 21
5. Firing Line, Bruce Burton / Skip Dieball / Jeff Eiber , USA – 7 -8 -13 ; 28
6. GBR 1424, Barry Parkin / Noel Drennan / Adrian Oweles , USA – 20 -9 -2 ; 31
7. Tquila, Luis Doreste / David Vera / Leanor Rania / Iago Lopez , SUI – 2 -13 -16 ; 31
8. Lifted, Jim Cunningham / Jeff Madrigali / Mark Ivey / Bryn Bachman , USA – 9 -11 -12 ; 32
9. La Tormenta, Shannon W Bush / Brad Boston / Phil Tinter , USA – 3 -4 -27 ; 34
10. Arethusa, Phil Lotz / Luke Lawrence / Eric Lawrence , USA – 21 -10 -3 ; 34

Event detailsFinal results

Event report by John Payne:
The 2017 Etchells Biscayne Bay Series had its third regatta in Miami this weekend with the Florida State Championship. Hosted by Etchells Fleet 20 and the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club only three of five scheduled races were competed. Forty-three boats took part for this regatta, with several Etchells world champions on the starting line.

Saturday’s weather was almost Chamber of Commerce. Bright sunny skies with temperatures in the high seventies greeted the competitors as they came out to beautiful Biscayne Bay. The only thing putting a damper on the morning was light patchy winds. After a brief AP, PRO Stuart Childerley was able to set a four leg course with a bearing of 040 degrees in 5 knots. Those conditions held for the first two races with the direction slowly clocking to 065. It was a challenge for the race committee to keep the courses fair, and they did a great job.

With Etchells, since the boats all have similar performance, it’s a good idea to have a long first beat to allow for some separation between the boats when they arrive at the weather mark. With light winds, a 1.1 mile first leg takes a bit of time. In this case it took almost 30 minutes, and the second leg took 25 minutes. The key here was for the PRO to shorten the third and fourth legs to keep the race time an acceptable length.

As is usually the case in any light air races, getting a good start with a clean lane is of utmost importance. After that it becomes an exercise in taking the shifts and looking for pressure.

For example: In the first downwind of race one, almost the entire fleet wound up on the left side of the course. So much so that they all arrived from well outside the left gate. With the right gate 200 feet farther along, all of the first 13 boats took the left gate. Etchells veteran Scott Kaufman, sailing with Lucas Calabrase, Jesse Kirkland, and Austin Anderson, was the first to sail all the way over to the right gate. The move paid off as a right shift found them on the correct side of the course. By the top mark they were in third, and finished fourth.

The other boats that recognized the shift were Steve Benjamin, Luis Doreste and Shannon Bush who finished first, second and third respectively.

Race two was almost a carbon copy of race one. Peter Duncan sailing with his crew of Jud Smith and Andrew Palfrey led the race wire to wire. Second went to Steve Benjamin. Peter Vessela, another veteran of the class, finished third.

Though some puffs to ten knots were seen early in race three, by the end of that race the wind had pretty much completely shut off. Steve Benjamin, who had started the first two races in the middle of the line, won the pin end for this race, and with a great start rode that to a wire to wire victory.

Steve Benjamin and his crew of Michael Menninger, Dave Hughes, and Ian Liberty clearly had the right set up for the conditions on Saturday running off a three race string of 1-2-1 to win the day.

Steve mentioned that several factors contributed to their success. “We had a new main for this regatta that proved to be very quick.” He continued, “We also changed the way we handle tactics on the boat. Michael (Menninger) took it upon himself to draw out comments from everybody on the boat which was a different way of managing the conversation. That led to David giving more input than in previous regattas which helped our results.”

After putting the boats to bed for the night, the fleet enjoyed the post racing social. Biscayne Bay Yacht Club always puts out a nice spread of hot food and cold beverages. Well after dark the last sailors headed off with hopes for two races on Sunday. A few boats had a pair of nice races along with one they hoped to be able to discard.

Unfortunately it was not to be. PRO Childerley and the race committee gave it everything they had on Sunday, but the light shifty winds made it impossible to run a race. The gradient breeze from 060-075 kept battling a sea breeze trying to fill from 140. After multiple postponements and five attempted starts, the fleet headed back to the dock.

Steve Benjamin finished first. Finishing second was Kevin Grainger and his crew of Max Skelley and Chuck Norris. Third place went to Peter Duncan while Mark Watson with Dirk Kneulman, Rob Scrivenor and Andreas Josenhans. Rounding out the podium was Bruce Burton sailing with Skip Dieball and Jeff Eiber.

By virtue of having the top Fleet 20 boat, Steve also takes home the Tom Piper Memorial Florida State Champ Trophy.

Next up in the Series is the Midwinter Championship for the Schoonmaker Cup, February 24-26.


2017 Etchells Biscayne Bay Series
Louis Piana Cup Regatta – December 10-11, 2016
Sidney Doren Memorial Regatta – January 7-8, 2017
Florida State Championship – February 4-5, 2017
Mid-Winter’s East Regatta – February 24-26, 2017

Series Details: To qualify for the overall 2017 Etchells Biscayne Bay Series prizes, boats must include their place in the Mid -Winters Regatta and any two of the other three individual regattas (Piana Cup, Sidney Doren Memorial, Florida State Championship). Place scores from each individual regatta of the series will be used with the Low Point Scoring System (1st Place = 1 point, 2nd Place = 2 points, 3rd Place = 3 points, etc.). The boat with the lowest score will be declared the overall winner of the 201 7 Biscayne Bay Series.

Source: Ken Batzer

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