This is the third in a series profiling the crew of Shape leading up to and through the Port Huron-to-Mackinac Island sailboat race.
Cam Benedict always thought his dad, Chris, and the rest of the crew aboard Shape was having a good time in the Port Huron-to-Mackinac Island sailboat race.
Now, after a decade on the boat himself, he knows it.
“I’ve seen them have a lot of fun over the years,” Benedict, 22, said. “My dad’s been racing my whole life, and I remember every Mackinac morning going to the docks to see them off. I remember waiting to hear back from them about how they did. We’d hear about the good time they had on the island, and it all seemed like a lot of fun.
“Now, to be a part of it, it kind of reinforces that, and it makes me want to get other people involved.”
Benedict, a student at Michigan State who graduated from Plymouth High School, will take part in his 11th Mackinac race aboard Shape when the fleet leaves Saturday morning from lower Lake Huron. The Port Huron Yacht Club boat will be defending its title in Level 126 — named Class N Racing this year — and on the Shore Course, which it won overall a year ago.
“It had never been a thought in my mind that overall was even a thing that’s achievable for us,” Benedict said. “We think it’s fast, but it’s not in the same ballpark as some of those hot rod boats they have now.
“There are a lot less boats to compete with (this year on the Shore Course), but the boats there are fast boats. Winning our class alone is a feat that I think is almost comparable to the overall. We have some really fast boats, and they keep us on our toes.”
In his 10 years aboard Shape, Benedict has been part of plenty of success. The boat has won its class three times (2010, 2013 and 2014) and the overall this past year. It also took second twice, including in 2005 when he sailed his first Mackinac race.
“I still remember that year like yesterday,” Benedict said. “We ran into a storm and it was a really fast ride. They were all surprised, because we weren’t used to finishing on Sunday night.
“… I think that a lot of our success is due to consistency. We have a bunch of guys who like each other and who sail with each other every year. The guys all have the same mindset, the same goal.”
The Benedicts are joined on the boat by Win Cooper III — who co-owns Shape along with Chris Benedict — Winfield Cooper, Richard Birdsall, Steve Bradley, Ed Ely and Dale McNabb. Cam Benedict is the youngest, and while his dad jokes that all of the success has ballooned his ego, Cam said he doesn’t think it’s that big.
“We joke, and maybe are a little more egotistical on the boat than we are generally,” Cam Benedict said. “Since I’m the youngest, I get it the most. But it’s a fun time.”
Contact Paul Costanzo at (810) 989-6251 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PaulCostanzo.