Buckingham Takes Lead at Laser NAs / U.S. Singlehanded Championships

Friday’s weather: Wind 8-11k SW; sunny, high temp. 73F.
Saturday’s forecast: Wind 9k SW; sunny, high temp. 75F.

By Rich Roberts

Photo credit to Rich RobertsLONG BEACH, Calif. (June 13, 2014) – It’s not the Olympics, but in a potential preview Charlie Buckingham started the second day of the 2014 Laser North American championships Friday one point behind leader Bruno Fontes of Brazil, the host nation of the 2016 Games.

What a start. He finished second to Erik Bowers of Minnetonka, Minn., while Fontes cruised to a trio of threes—then heard later back on the beach by the host Alamitos Bay Yacht Club that he had been disqualified for crossing the start line early.

“I was right at the pin [end],” Buckingham said. “I don’t remember [hearing anything].”

Meanwhile, he went on his way, unaware of the ugly prospect of being docked 77 points (the total entries plus one), collecting a second and a first in the next two races as Fontes cruised to a trio of threes.

No problem. After six races on an open sea course everybody could discard his and her worst finishes, so Buckingham’s 77 would be buried quietly between a pair of parentheses. As it is, he now throws out a three from Day 1 instead.

Even better, the OCS (on course side) infraction was withdrawn later, apparently on the possibility that a wrong sail number had been noted, leaving Buckingham with a scoreline of 2-(3)-1-2-2-1 for 7 points halfway through the regatta, with Fontes four points behind.

Buckingham didn’t even need to hire a lawyer.

Actually, he said, “I’ve been getting off the line well. My speed feels pretty good and I haven’t made any huge mistakes.”

Fontes said his strategy for the last two days is clear: “I must keep my eyes on Charlie. He has more experience here.”

Long Beach, with its trademark southwest breeze funneling down the San Pedro Channel between Santa Catalina Island and the mainland, was a bit milder than Monday’s 19-knot blowout over churning seas that chased the less experienced sailors home early.

Friday was 8 to 11 knots with a more manageable sea state of scattered whitecaps.

The event also encompasses US Sailing’s U.S. Singlehanded Championship for Americans age 17 and up, which has Buckingham and Chris Barnard—longtime rivals from Newport Beach—as the current two top Olympic hopes in the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider lineup.

Luke Muller leads the Laser Radials with five firsts in six races, tossing a six. Paige Railey, another Sperry Top-Sider sailor, is four points back.

Macey McCann leads the Laser 4.7s with five firsts, ahead of Gage Wilson with five seconds.

The plan is to run three races daily on trapezoid courses starting at noon each day, conditions permitting.

The U.S. Sailing Singlehanded Champions will receive the prestigious George D. O’Day trophy for men and Helen Willis Hanley trophy for women.

The men’s Laser and the women’s Laser Radial are Olympic class events; Laser 4.7 features youth participants.

The top eligible male Laser and female Radial sailor will be named U.S. Singlehanded Champions.

USSC logo 250_blueFor 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 more details about the entire event.

Laser NA Media Contact: Rich Roberts
310.835.2526, cell 310.766.6547

US Sailing Media Contact: Jake Fish
jakefish@ussailing.org, 401-366-3115

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 gary.barker@gillna.com.

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.