Sailor of the Week: July 29 - August 4
Steve Benjamin (South Norwalk, Conn.) set out to win last week’s 34th annual Around Long Island Race, a 190-mile race hosted by the Sea Cliff Yacht Club (N.Y.). Steve and his co-skipper Dennis Collins have won the race twice, most recently in 2008. They came up just short of winning their third title after placing second in their division. However, winning wasn’t Steve’s only goal.
He re-dedicated his Tripp 41 Custom as Robotic Oncology in tribute to the life-saving skills of Dr. David B. Samadi, Chief Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at Mount Sinai in New York, N.Y. Less than six months ago, Steve underwent successful surgery for prostate cancer. “I saw the possibility to help raise awareness of prostate cancer, and to let everyone know that the disease can be overcome,” explained Steve.
Earlier this month, Robotic Oncology just missed winning the Rolex US-IRC Nationals, during the New York Yacht Club Race Week presented by Rolex. Nonetheless, Steve was back in a boat and racing at a high level just six months after major surgery.
Steve began sailing at the age of nine with his family. His father ran a boatyard, and Steve has enjoyed being around boats for as long as he can remember. The first boats he sailed were 24-foot keelboats, followed by small, one-man dinghies, Blue Jays, Lightnings, Fireballs, 420s, 470s, 505s, and eventually ICs and Atlantics.
As a freshman at Yale University in 1973, Steve was exposed to Olympic sailors. This is where his Olympic aspirations originated. He took a year off from college to train for the 1976 Olympic Games in a 470 with Bryson Hall crewing. In the Olympic trials, they recorded a disqualification in the first race, which they won, and finished 17th. He tried again in 1980 and won the Olympic Trials with Neal Fowler, but the U.S. boycotted the 1980 Games and Steve didn’t get the chance to compete. Finally his perseverance prevailed; Steve and Chris Seinfeld won the 1984 Olympic Trials, and went on to win a silver medal in the 1984 Games. Steve went on to coach J.J. Isler in the 1992 Games and helped her win bronze. He was also the sailing advisor to New York during their bid to host the 2012 Games.
Currently, Steve is a sales manager for North Sails and has been with the company for 10 years. He enjoys sailing with his wife Heidi, who is the tactician aboard High Noon (Robotic Oncology). His upcoming sailing schedule is busy. He’ll be competing at the New York Yacht Club Cruise, the ORC World Championships in Kiel, Germany, Rolex Big Boat Series in San Francisco, and the Les Voiles de Saint Tropez Regatta in France.