Meet Our Experts

Experts from throughout the region will be at the Providence Boat Show to share their knowledge in seminars that run all three days of the show. All of our fishing, boating, sailing and safety experts are mariners with deep experience who have a passion for sharing their wisdom with boaters of all levels. Read about some of them here, then visit our website for a complete listing of all our seminars and experts.


benhoffCaptain Matt Benhoff holds a U.S. Coast Guard Master 100-ton, near- coastal license and has been a full-time professional mariner for nearly ten years. In 2006, he joined the U.S. Coast Guard and became a boatswain mate, serving as a boarding officer and commander of a 47-foot Motor Life Boat and 25-foot RB-S. After leaving the Coast Guard, Captain Benhoff joined the Annapolis School of Seamanship as an instructor captain and has served on training passages and yacht deliveries in the Chesapeake, Pacific Northwest, Atlantic Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea.


landonBorn in Rhode Island and raised in Maine, Landon Cohen began fishing in a small stream behind his house at age seven. Growing up in Maine gave him the opportunity to fish in ponds, streams, lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. He later expanded his reach into the waters of Cape Cod. On a quest to explore more water, he purchased a kayak and fished rock piles and ledges with both conventional and fly gear. With his kayak, he has gained access to waters that are difficult to reach by land and has come to know the flats and salt ponds of New England while honing his skill of sight fishing for huge bass. He has most recently begun targeting large gamefish in New England waters.


mollyAnnapolis-based Molly Winans is the managing editor of SpinSheet and PropTalk magazines and the new-sailor guide, Start Sailing Now. Winans did not come from a sailing family; she started sailing on her own as a teenager at summer camp and has been sailing for decades on boats of all sizes. She knows firsthand that you do not have to belong to a yacht club or own your own boat to become an active and proficient sailor—and she enjoys sharing this knowledge with new sailors.


joe-cooperFrom the America’s Cup, to ocean races in the Atlantic and the Pacific, to the top end of one-design competition, Rhode Island racer Joe Cooper has done it all. He will be at the Providence Boat Show to share his knowledge with sailors who want to get into the racing game. Born in Australia, Cooper has competed in the America’s Cup, the Sydney-Hobart Race, the Bermuda Race, Chicago-Mackinac, the Sardinia Cup—to name just a few. He has been a strong proponent of doublehanded racing and has competed in numerous distance events as a two-person team. His one- design credits include classes that draw the top sailors in the world, including Lasers, Finns, and Etchells. His entire career has been in the sailing industry and has included positions as yacht captain rigger, sailmaker, yacht broker, high school sailing coach, and independent coach and consultant.


brandon-lakeCaptain Brandon Lake of the AFTCO (American Fishing Tackle Company) pro team was raised in the sport-fishing lifestyle and has participated in it actively since the age of two. Although he has placed at the top in several regional tournament series, he’s a sportsman who normally avoids the limelight. Captain Lake gets on the water in the North East just about every day and his passion, personal character and notable skill sets have made him an essential player for the East Coast Charters team. Lake specializes in using spinning tackle for big game species and has a knack for targeting large striped bass in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay.


jim-oconnerJim O’Connor is an expert in marine safety and survival who routinely outfits vessels that venture offshore. He will be demonstrating the proper use and storage of emergency life rafts and other survival equipment at the Providence Boat Show. As president and founder of Life Raft & Survival Equipment, Inc. based in Tiverton (R.I.), he has been outfitting commercial and recreational boats since 1980.


capt-corey Captain Corey Pietrazek runs the Plug N Play Charter Group, one of New England’s premier fly and light tackle fishing operations. He grew up in a small coastal town in Massachusetts, the son of an avid angler. As a youngster, fishing in local ponds and estuaries was all he could think about and he spent many summer days in the small boats his family owned, looking for different places to catch striped bass and bluefish. He has been a licensed captain for 15 years and his accolades and reputation have earned him many invitations to major outdoor sporting venues, including the 2015 Saltwater Sportsman National Seminar Series.


Captain Phil LeBlanc, vice president of Maritime Operations for Safe/Sea Marine Rescue, has spent 17 years in the assistance industry and holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Masters license with a commercial towing endorsement. He is currently a national facilitator for the BoatUS Towing Advisory Council and a nationally accredited National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) instructor. NASBLA is a national nonprofit organization that develops public policy for recreational boating safety.


capt-martino An experienced professional captain with a 20-year background in marine training, Captain John Martino holds a 500 Gross Ton, All-Oceans captain’s license from the U.S. Coast Guard. He has logged more than 1500 sea days in waters ranging from the Great Lakes to Panama, and has served as captain on ocean-going vessels up to 105 feet. As founder and president of the Annapolis School of Seamanship, he and his team have pioneered the new Boating Seminar series for the Providence Boat Show. Captain Martino produces and leads courses ranging from basic navigation to seamanship—both for recreational boaters and professional mariners training to become licensed captains up to 200 gross tons.


wakefieldEric Wakefield of North Sails is a professional sailmaker who is coming to the Providence Boat Show to help showgoers learn how to manage their onboard sail care. He has worked in the sail-repair industry for 16 years, including work for America’s Cup syndicates and Volvo Ocean Race teams. He currently runs one of the largest sail-repair facilities in North America.


capt-jack Captain Jack Sprengel of East Coast Charters and Team Shimano, who has coordinated our Sport Fishing Seminars, is known for his edgy style and unique approach to the sport. An active writer and photographer, his work has been featured in publications such as Saltwater Sportsman, Field and Stream, Coastal Angler and others; he has also appeared on major network television series for the National Geographic and Animal Planet channels. An enthusiast of all species, Captain Jack specializes in light tackle fishing for big game species. He has fished the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and freshwater lakes, rivers and streams around the world; at home he focuses on near- coastal waters off Block Island and Cape Cod or fishes the canyons of the Northeast U.S. He is a two-time Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) Angler of the Year and five-time Hall of fame inductee.


brian-coonyBryan Cooney is president and founder of Headsync LLC, a Newport, Rhode Island–based marine service company that specializes in marine plumbing services for boating enthusiasts and professionals.


two Kyle Oneppo and Kyle Paparelli —often called “The Kyles”—are a dynamic duo who represent the future of sport fishing. They are both only 16 years old but are already forces to be reckoned with. They have placed in and won multiple cash tournaments and are ranked RISAA Anglers of the Year and Hall of Fame inductees. These two young men have racked up more angling credits than anglers twice their age and have landed trophy swordfish, tuna and pelagic sharks in waters as far as 140 miles off shore. Additionally, they have also mastered the more popular inshore species and even freshwater game. The appearance of these two up-and- coming sportsmen at the Providence Boat Show is a unique opportunity that both young and mature anglers alike will enjoy.


bj Capt. B.J. Silvia of Rhode Island’s Flippin’ Out Fishing Charters has been fishing Newport, Block Island and Narragansett Bay his whole life. A lifelong Aquidneck Island resident, he has extensive knowledge of the local waters and prides himself on finding fish and ensuring his charter customers have a lot of fun! He has been featured on TV shows such as Fishing the Ocean State with Don Coyne and On The Water TV. Captain B.J. has been commercial and charter fishing for over 20 years and practices catch and release whenever he can. He is a member of RISAA, Newport County Fishing Club, and the Aquidneck Island Striper Team. Although he is busy charter fishing, a lot of times you’ll still find him throwing plugs in the surf.