By Rich Roberts
Charlie Buckingham and Paige Railey have been collecting trophies since they were kids, but Sunday they won some of the more precious hardware: the George D. O’Day trophy for men and Helen Willis Hanley trophy for women in the U.S. Sailing Singlehanded Championships.
The competition hosted by Alamitos Bay Yacht Club was part of the Laser class North American Championships, where the pair also prevailed over fleets of 73 Laser standard rigs and 108 Radials from 14 countries, respectively.
Buckingham, 25, from Newport Beach, Calif., held off Brazil’s Bruno Fontes by four points—each won three of the 11 races—while Railey, 26, of Clearwater, Fla., won by 20 points with only two finishes worse than third, both of which were discards.
Chris Barnard, also from Newport Beach, staged a fast finish, winning both races Sunday to place third overall.
Conditions over four days on the open ocean trapezoid course varied from a 19-knot blowout Thursday to a wispy Sunday. The constant oscillations in direction from south to southwest and back and velocity from 4 to 8 knots caused several delays, and in the end the race committee was forced to abandon a scheduled 12th race when the 3 o’clock deadline ran out a minute after a botched desperate start by the Lasers, preventing a restart.
The two winners figured it all out better than anyone.
Railey said, “I may be blonde, but I can still think about things.”
Buckingham said, “I felt like I sailed a solid week. Over four days we had everything, and the competition forced you to sail well against good people.”
He also credited other good people: US Sailing and his sponsor, West Coast University and chairman Dave Pyle.
Gage Wilson of Cape Coral, Fla. won the nine-boat Laser 4.7 fleet with four wins.
Fontes, ranked No. 4 in the world, higher than anyone else in the event, started the day one point behind Buckingham, his training partner, but struggled in the conditions, especially in the next to last race.
“The wind shifted and I went the wrong way,” he said somberly.
Next month he will join US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider members Buckingham, Barnard and Railey at a pre-Olympic training regatta in his homeland, in the meantime continuing to work with them out of ABYC under the guidance of the team’s Laser coach, Mark Littlejohn.
“This showed us things are on course,” Littlejohn said. “It’s good to see a range of conditions to assess the sailors.”
Railey, a former ISAF Woman Sailor of the Year, said, “All the hard work is paying off.”
The men’s Laser and the women’s Laser Radial are Olympic class events; Laser 4.7 features youth participants.
The Laser, a Canadian designed dinghy, is the largest dinghy class in the world with more than 200,000 boats built.
For more information about the 2014 U.S. Singlehanded Championship, including real-time Twitter updates from the course, visit the event website.
The U.S. Singlehanded Championship is sponsored by Gill North America and Hobie Polarized Sunglasses. This is a Sailors for the Sea certified event.
Visit the 2014 Laser North American Championships website for final standing, photos and more.
Laser NA Media Contact: Rich Roberts
310.835.2526, cell 310.766.6547
US Sailing Media Contact: Jake Fish
About US Sailing
The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for sailing, provides leadership, integrity, and growth for the sport in the United States. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US Sailing is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. US Sailing offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country, including National Championships and the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider. For more information, please visit www.ussailing.org.
About Gill North America
Gill NA, with headquarters near Atlanta, GA is the exclusive importer and distributor of Gill-brand foul weather gear in North America including Caribbean, US and Canada. Gill is a worldwide apparel and accessories brand serving the marine industry with over three decades of experience. Gill specializes in high tech, breathable waterproof clothing. The company develops and markets a variety of performance-oriented, award-winning apparel and accessories for virtually every type of boating activity with product lines that include foul weather gear; interactive layering systems; footwear; gloves; bags; junior gear; scholastic gear and team wear. Gill products are available through hundreds of independent dealers and select West Marine Stores. For further information, please contact: Gary Barker at 941 505 2111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Hobie Polarized
Hobie Polarized is a leading designer, developer, marketer and distributor of polarized eyewear. The brand’s innovative lens technology allows total glare reduction, 100% UV protection, enhances contrast and provides optimum visual acuity. The company’s products are sold worldwide and are used by watermen at all skill and lifestyle levels. The Hobie Polarized headquarters is located in Plainview, New York. For further information, please visit the company’s website at www.hobiepolarized.com.