Benz Faget aims for fourth US Title
Published on September 24th, 2018
The 2018 U.S. Adult Sailing Championship begins September 26 with three-time winner Benz Faget (Metairie, La.) looking to tie the record for most victories in the legendary, US Sailing championship. The 63rd edition has attracted 11 teams to compete on Lake Minnetonka in Wayzata, MN.
The 60-year-old Faget, a champion sailor across a number of different classes, previously won the Clifford D. Mallory Trophy three times, in 1994, ’99 and 2014. If he were to succeed, he’ll equal the record for victories by a skipper, four, held by Scott Young (Austin, Texas), who won in 1985, ’87, 2006 and ’08.
Faget, representing the Gulf Yachting Association, will be racing with regular bowman Randall Richmond (New Orleans, La.) and trimmer Joshua Dupree (Mobile, Ala.).
“Scott is a good friend of mine, we’ve done a lot of sailing against each other through the years,” said Faget. “Hopefully I still have it in me. It’s normally a well-challenged championship. It was 20-something years ago when I won the first one, so I hope I still have it in me.”
Even if Faget wins the championship Young will remain a step ahead. Young also won the Mallory Trophy twice as a crew (1979, ’81), giving him six overall victories.
“Benz has always been fast,” said Young, who’s sitting out this year’s regatta. “He’s always one of the fastest out there. He’s a very good helmsman, determined and competitive. He’s definitely formidable.”
The Mallory Trophy, a magnificent sterling silver tureen trophy, has a long and colorful history that dates to the Battle of the Nile in 1798. Racing for the Mallory Trophy was first held in 1952 as the U.S. Men’s Sailing Championship. Since then it has become a more open and inclusive regatta, allowing female skippers and all-female crews. In reflection, the regatta was renamed the U.S. Adult Sailing Championship in 2013.
The Staton J. Peele Sportsmanship Trophy also will be presented to the skipper or crew who is selected by the competitors, judges and race committee, according to the deed of Gift, as best exhibiting the traits of true sportsmanship.
Competing teams represent their Regional Sailing Association (RSA) having qualified by competing at a high level in their respective RSA qualifying events or by submitting a resume. The championship, hosted by Wayzata Yacht Club on September 26 to 29, will be sailed in J/22s.
The fleet includes a mix of past champions and local sailors. Southern Massachusetts Sailing Association representative Paul Wilson (New York, N.Y.) previously won in 2010.
“I expect extremely challenging conditions, with shifty winds and physically grueling short courses,” said the 49-year-old Wilson. “The talent at the finals is off the charts, so it should be one heck of a championship.”
Local sailors include Michael Hanson (Wayzata, Minn.), who’ll skipper the crew representing the Inland Lake Yachting Association, and Hawaii Yacht Racing Association skipper Maddy Kennedy (Honolulu, Hawaii). Kennedy grew up in Wayzata before moving to Honolulu to attend the University of Hawaii.
“I’ve been sailing all my life, came up through the Lake Minnetonka sailing school and Minnetonka Yacht Club,” said 28-year-old Hanson. “It’s cool getting folks from around the country up to Wayzata. The club is one of the best racing clubs in the country. There should be good competition.”
Besides having to contend with a competitive fleet, Faget is also concerned about the weather. At this time of year, one week into autumn, the conditions are transitioning from warm summer winds to chilly winter breezes. The air temperature could well be cold on the lake that has a water temperature around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
“It’s going to be chilly and I’m getting old. I’ll probably be the oldest skipper there,” said Faget. “There’ll be good sailors there and you have to respect the competition. Hopefully we can give them trouble.”
• Barnegat Bay Yacht Racing Association // Skipper: Sean Bradley (Point Pleasant Beach, N.J.)
• Gulf Yachting Association // Skipper: Benz Faget (Metairie, La.)
• Inland Lake Yachting Association // Skipper: Mike Hanson (Wayzata, Minn.)
• Sailing Association of Intermountain Lakes // Skipper: Robin Jackson (Littleton, Colo.)
• Hawaii Yacht Racing Association // Skipper: Maddy Kennedy (Honolulu, Hawaii)
• Inter-Lake Yachting Association // Skipper: Ryan Lashaway (Rocky River, Ohio)
• Texas Sailing Association // Skipper: Fred Meno (Fort Worth, Texas)
• Twin Cities Regional Sailing Association // Skipper: Michael Schmid (Jordan, Minn.)
• Yacht Racing Association of San Francisco Bay // Skipper: Vaughn Seifers (El Cerrito, Calif.)
• Lake Superior Yachting Association // Skipper: Susan Mattis Turnham (Duluth, Minn.)
• Southern Massachusetts Sailing Association // Skipper: Paul Wilson (New York, N.Y.)
Source: US Sailing