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Paige Railey surges to top at Laser North Americans

Published on June 14th, 2014

Long Beach, CA (June 14, 2014) – It’s not exactly match racing, but out of 74 entries the Laser class North American Championships hosted by Alamitos Bay Yacht Club comes down to a two-man battle on the final day Sunday: Charlie Buckingham of nearby Newport Beach versus Bruno Fontes of Brazil.

Wait a minute, Brazil is in South America. No matter … several of the top competitors are from outside the continent, reveling in a range of conditions they hope will improve their chances to reach Fontes’ home waters for the 2016 Olympics.

Fontes led after Day 1 and Buckingham after Day 2, then both stumbled slightly with their worst finishes in the light-air first of three races Saturday—eighth and 11th, respectively, which became their throwouts on the scorecard.

Fontes then closed the day with a 1-3 as Buckingham finished 2-5 and saw his lead shrink to a single point, 17-18. Their nearest rival, Cy Thompson of the U.S. Virgin Islands, is at 44 points.

“Not so good,” Fontes said of his day, “but between me and Charlie, I finished ahead of him.”

Buckingham noted, “I think we’re keeping an eye on each other, but there are still three races to go.”

Winds have ranged from a feisty 19 knots Thursday to 11 Friday and building from 7 to 13 Saturday, with a typical steady shift right from south to southwest. The forecast for Sunday looked like Friday.

“We’ll take anything,” Buckingham said. “It’s been a range of conditions. The race committee is doing a good job.”

Meanwhile, another Buckingham—Charlie’s uncle from Hawaii—is confusing the picture with a credible performance in the middle of the fleet.

In Laser Radials, Paige Railey, a former ISAF world woman sailor of the year from Clearwater, Fla., surged to the top with a second and first for a 20-point lead after discarding her 11th in Saturday’s first race. Her top rival, Luke Muller, suffered a breakdown in the second race and was unable to sail the third.

Altogether there are 190 entries from 14 countries in three classes, demanding a quarter-mile-long start line, which has been fairly free of overanxious OCS (on course side) offenders.

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.

Macey McCann and Gage Wilson share the Laser 4.7 class lead at 14 points, with McCann holding a narrow tiebreaker.

Sunday’s fourth and final day of racing is scheduled to start at noon, 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.

Class leaders
(after 6 of 9 races; one discard)

LASER STANDARD—Charlie Buckingham, Newport Beach, Calif., 2-3-1-2-1-1-(11)-2-5, 17 points; Bruno Fontes, Brazil, 1-1-3-3-3-3-(8)-1-3, 18.

LASER RADIAL—Paige Railey, Clearwater, Fla., 2-3-3-1-2-1-(11)-2-1, 26.

LASER 4.7—Tie between Macey McCann, 2-2-1-2-1-1-(7)-7-2, and Gage Wilson, 1-1-2-3-2-2-(6)-6-1, 18.

Laser, 4.7 results:
Laser Radial results:
Event website:

Report by Rich Roberts

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