Jim Bowers bested a talented field of 56 sailors Sunday to take top honors at the Interclub national championships, held this year at Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis Md. This is a first time win for Bowers, a 1991 graduate of Harvard College where he gained All-American status as a top intercollegiate racer. Bowers, who sails in the Winthrop, Mass., based fleet, had flirted with wins at the IC nationals before, taking a 5th in 1998, 3rd in 1997 and a 6th in 1996. But this year he could not be denied in a two day 12 race regatta that saw everything from light and shifty breezes on day one to a steady, choppy 15-20 knots on day two.
After six challenging races Saturday sailed in shifty conditions just off the U.S. Naval Acadamy, long-time Interclub sailor Steve Benjamin and long-time crew Adam Walsh jumped into the lead. Benjamin, a three time former IC national champion, showed superior speed and masterfully picked his way through the shifts. But by Sunday, a low front had ripped through Annapolis, bringing with it a classic northerly breeze. The breeze held strong for much of the day, putting a premium on hiking hard and hitting massive shifts, often 30 degrees.
Benjamin proved no slouch and fought hard into the final heat. Going into the last race Benjamin and Bowers were one point apart. Also in the fight were Larchmont-based Ben Cesare and Kim Cesare, a husband and wife team. Cesare took five firsts, more than either Benjamin or Bowers could come up with on their own. But Cesare’s downfall: His worst race was a 17th, which he discarded, but he had to keep a devastating 13th, putting him out of the running. In the last race, Bowers took a 2nd and Benjamin fell back to 7th, giving Bowers a six point win over Benjamin.
The cracker jack SSA race committee ran 24 races in all, that’s 12 races for each competitor under the round robin two division system used for large dinghy fleets. Racers came as far as Hyannis, Massachusetts, Boston and Rochester, N.Y. The IC nationals has their usual flavor of former collegiate sailors, husband and wife teams and father and son and daughter combinations. The field was incredibly talented, and included such luminaries as former Rolex sailor of the year Susan Dierdorff Taylor, Tornado Olympic hopeful Lars Guck and America Cup sailor Ralf Steitz.
— Allan Freedman