Remembering CJ Buckley

Published on July 31st, 2014

The 12th annual CJ Buckley Team Race for the c420 class Team Racing Nationals was sailed out of East Greewich, RI on July 28-30 with 33 teams and over 250 sailors from 26 USA states, the Virgin Islands and Bermuda. The regatta at Goddard Park was massive with two racecourses averaging over 150 races a day for 3 days.

Beyond the racing, the event provides a chance to remember a junior sailor – CJ Buckley – who was a great competitor, teammate and friend. CJ passed away in 2002 from brain cancer.

CJ wrote in his application for Tabor Academy “Sailing is life. The rest is just details.” Given the passage of time, most if not all of the competitors never met him, but perhaps know a kid like CJ with those same passionate qualities about sailing.

The “CJ” is all about celebrating that spirit with hard core racing mixed in, sprinkled with “that was a great race” or “congrats”. The “CJ” is also about volunteerism, giving back to the sport everyone loves. The regatta is solely run by volunteers in a public park, with college coaches, junior coaches, parents, local families, East Greenwich Yacht Club and Greenwich Bay Sailing Association all donating their time and resources to provide a regatta with the spirit and passion of CJ.

The “CJ” could not happen without the dedication of two brothers, Kyle and Justin Assad, who have dedicated so much time and effort to make sure CJ lives on. The brothers, their friends, and of course the Buckley family work tirelessly to make it a special event for so new generations of sailors that did not get a chance to meet CJ.

By day three of the “CJ”, the championship was down to just two teams and the racing did not disappoint. The Finals came down to the regatta leaders, “Timone and the Pumbas” against the “Milton Academy Mustangs”. The finals were a best of three series and the champions were crowned in the third race.

Racing was tight from the start of race 1. Timone balanced into an early lead at mark 1 with a 1,2,5 combination, but the Mustangs would have none of that and battled on the downwind legs to convert their team into a 1,2,6 by the last leg. The Mustangs held on for the win in race 1. Race 2 Timnoe lead off the line and never looked back and evened the score. So it was now down to the final race winner takes all. The race all the way around was even with combinations changing and a heated last reach. In the end the Mustangs were able to hold on for a win in the race and a win for the regatta. The racing was heated and tough but both teams congratulated each other on a great race and a great series. That’s the way CJ would have it end.

The top three teams were:
1. Milton Academy Mustangs: Nick DiGiovanni, Eli Burnes, Henry Burnes, James Maguire, Scott Paderaen, and Davis Tantillo.
2. Timone and the Pumbas: Martina Sly, Ian Morgan, Carter Pemberton, William Cannistraro, Andrew Sheerin and Taylor Kirkpatrick.
3. Team AYC: Nick Floyd, Trevor Long, Kyle Comerford, Amelia Hardy, Harrison Hawk and Tessa Fullmer.

Complete results and teams can be found at

About CJ Buckley

CJ Buckley was a junior sailor who grew up sailing on Greenwich Bay out of the Greenwich Bay Sailing Foundation. CJ loved the sport and would do anything to be on the water with his friends. CJ was diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent chemo therapy. In December of 2002, after a year and a half battle with cancer, he passed away. CJ’s father said about CJ: “He loved the excitement and challenge of being on the water. He was a talented sailor and fierce competitor.” Even when CJ was undergoing intense chemotherapy he got in his boat and went sailing.

Report by John Vandemoer.


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