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The Benjamin’s Emotional Victory aboard Spookie

Published on July 23rd, 2017

Edgartown, MA (July 23, 2017) – Edgartown Yacht Club’s 79th ‘Round-the-Island Race was won by Heidi and Steve Benjamin’s 52’ racing yacht SPOOKIE. The 54.62 mile race around Martha’s Vineyard is one of the classic races of the summer season in New England. It has been running every year since 1938 (except for a few years during World War II), when the first “SPOOKIE” owned by Harold T. White, Jr. was the overall winner, bringing home the coveted Venona Trophy for the first overall finish by a racing yacht with spinnaker.

Ten years later, in 1948, William Ziegler III (Heidi Benjamin’s father) won the Venona Trophy for the first of three times with the same SPOOKIE. He followed up the overall win two more times in 1950 and 1955. SPOOKIE was a Sparkman & Stephens (design #153), with length overall of 45.3 feet, built by Lemos Brothers of Riverside, RI and launched in 1937.

The original SPOOKIE, an S&S 45’ racing sloop. (right) SPOOKIE III (credit Stephen Cloutier)

Upon being presented with the Venona Trophy today, Heidi Benjamin said, “It’s an incredible honor to receive the Venona Trophy, especially after my Dad won it three times Congratulations to the whole SPOOKIE Team, and a special thanks to the Edgartown Yacht Club for hosting such a challenging and exciting race.”

SPOOKIE III is a 52’ racing yacht that sails with 9 to 15 crew depending on the conditions. Built new in 2011, and designed by Botin Partners, Heidi and Steve Benjamin have been campaigning it in many major races.

The 2017 ‘Round-the-Island Race was particularly challenging due to the light winds. After a short postponement the Race Committee got the race underway around 9 AM for the 57 entrants in 9 classes at the start off of Edgartown. The fleet rounded a mark off Cape Poge and proceeded South along Chappaquiddick Island to the turning mark RW “MC,” the red and white Mo(A) marking the shoals South and East of Martha’s Vineyard. From there the faster boats proceeded West toward Devil’s Bridge. Ultimately, the Race was shortened to the first virtual scoring gate, a longitude line on the South side of the island.

SPOOKIE’s corrected time was 5 hours 47 minutes and 48 seconds, over 2 hours ahead of second place finisher WAHOO, from the United States Naval Academy. Fourteen boats completed the shortened course, including one multihull in Class 0, two IRC racing yachts in Class 8, two doublehanded yachts in Class 4, 2 non-spinnaker yachts in Classes 2 and 3, and 7 PHRF spinnaker racing yachts in Classes 5, 6, and 7.

SPOOKIE also won PHRF A in the ‘Round-the-Buoy Races held on Thursday and Friday, July 20-21.

Heidi and Steve Benjamin, with the Venona Trophy at Edgartown Yacht Club (courtesy Steve Benjamin)

About Edgartown Yacht Club Race Weekend

Regularly attracting entrants from the Eastern Seaboard and beyond, Edgartown Yacht Club Race Weekend delivers exceptional racing opportunities for boats 28 feet and longer in classes for IRC, ORC, ORR, PHRF (spinnaker and non-spinnaker divisions), Double-Handed, and Classic. A Mount Gay-sponsored “jump-up” party on Friday night and prize givings on both Friday and Sunday (July 23) round out the schedule for competitors who are entered in one or the other, or both, of the racing sessions.

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Source: Media Pro International, Barby MacGowen

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