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Young skipper takes his turn at the Bell's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race 2019

by Barby MacGowan 12 Jul 12:34 PDT 20 July 2019

Cameron Benedict is not aware of any skippers younger than him in this year's Bell's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race, scheduled for July 20 and now with 220 registered entrants. The Plymouth, Mich. sailor is 26 years old, and last year his father Chris Benedict, who owned the Santana 35 Shape together with Win Cooper ("Uncle Win" to Cameron), decided to pass on the reigns - or tiller in this case - to the heir apparent. While Uncle Win has gone on to assume a role with the event's Race Committee, Father Chris will become one of his son's eight crew members as will Chris's other son Everett Benedict, joining for his fourth Bayview Mackinac Race.

"I am very excited for the opportunity to own the boat," said Cameron Benedict. "It gives me the chance to continue to grow and build on my ability as a sailor. I am also extremely grateful for the generosity of Win and my father for giving me this opportunity."

The elder Benedict and Cooper have been sailing together since they met at sailing school as kids, so they have been good role models for Cameron, who has sailed in 14 Bayview Mackinac Races with them.

"The Bell's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race is a challenge unlike many others," said Cameron. "It takes discipline, stamina, strategy, sailing ability, and a bit of good luck. You can put together a strategy that appears bulletproof after studying the weather for 7-10 days prior to the race, but if the weather comes early or late...or not at all, then you're back to the drawing board."

While preparation for the race is critical, Cameron also thinks that having the ability to deal with adversity and make the best of the wind you are dealt with is equally important. "Staying close to your competitors is a must, but even if you are behind, never giving up is key," he said. "The race is not over until you cross the finish line, and the weather can change at a moment's notice, giving anyone the opportunity to win throughout the duration of race."

Included in many memorable race moments for Cameron is the convergence of Shape with a group of Beneateau 36.7s near Thunder Bay Island in the 2014 race: "The Beneteau 36.7s are boats that are much faster than us in rating, and they were struggling to get by us. This was something that just shouldn't have been able to happen. We ended winning first overall on the Shore Course, which shows the exceptional race we had. It was a really exciting experience that I will certainly never forget."

Buoyed by that inspiration, along with the many years of guidance from his father and Cooper, the young Benedict is ready to take on whatever the 2019 Bell's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race dishes out on the Shore Course. "The race has greatly improved my ability as a sailor; however, no matter how many years I have done it, I never fail to learn something new each year. I'm constantly striving to improve, because let's face it, there are some fantastic sailors that participate in this race, and if you want to compete with them in class and/or overall, complacency is not an option."

For more information visit www.bycmack.com

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