High school senior Connor Bennett won 13 out of his 14 matches in the US Match Racing Qualifier held on April 30–May 1 at the St. Francis YC in the Club’s evenly matched fleet of J/22s. This achievement earned him an invitation to the US Match Racing Championship in October at Oakcliff Sailing Center in Oyster Bay, NY. Finishing in second with 11 wins, US Women’s Match Race Champion Nicole Breault praised Connor for his skill both at the helm and in team building, stacking his boat with a terrific tactician, his dad Shawn Bennett, a former US Match Racing Champion, and top crewmates Eric Bamhoff and John Bonds. High school junior Tor Svendsen also packed his boat with talent, including his dad Sean Svendsen, Russ Silvestri and Steve Marsh, and finished third, beating newcomer Ryder Easterlin on the tiebreaker. The eight teams competing in this event battled in SF Bay’s high winds and a building ebb current, challenging conditions for match racing moves where skippers aim quite closely at the opponent and execute quick tacks and luffs to force them to the unfavored side of the racecourse. In 20-30 kt winds (with occasional higher gusts), even the prosaic circling to kill time during the prestart created a great premium on boat handling. Once rounding the windward mark, teams rock-and-rolled their way down the course under spinnaker until the last few matches each day when PRO Wendy Corzine put up the Golf flag to signify main and jib only. Connor reflected, “We had great conditions, and some exciting wind. The Race Committee and all the organizing officials put on a great event, with a lot of talented sailors. I’m relatively new to match racing, but I’ve been lucky enough to have my dad Shawn Bennett sailing with me. I’m super excited to keep training and learning for the USMRC in October.” Tor commented, “The competition was high caliber, and few of our races were won easily. I was lucky to have such an experienced crew, and the teamwork on my boat was great. I made some unforced errors that resulted in some losses, but that’s match racing. Overall, it was a great learning experience.” Nicole’s team included regulars Molly Carapiet, Karen Loutzenheiser and Maggie Bacon. Said Nicole, “We were thrilled that this regatta attracted high school talent in Connor, Tor and Arthur Serra, and recent college grad Ryder Easterlin, and we look forward to growing the sport with them as role models. It was great having some young blood in the arena who took us to task! Connor, Tor, Arthur and Ryder have the talent and drive to grow our sport and the match racing game. We support them all the way.”

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