The Moorings 2018 Laser North American Championship hosted by the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club in Long Beach, California concluded with some fantastic racing by the classes top competitors. 167 sailors, representing 26 countries competed in the Laser, Laser Radial and Laser 4.7 classes. The Laser classes saw competitors ranging in age from 14 to 63, a true testament of the classes solidity. The event was also a qualifier for next year’s Pan American Games for many countries. The Alamitos Bay Yacht Club has a history of hosting great events. Regatta Chair Ed Spotskey said, “this is the kind of event ABYC likes to do. Our team really puts our best foot forward to make this a special event for the international sailors.”
The event saw tight racing with Charlie Buckingham of the USA winning the Bruce Kirby Cup in the Laser class. Brenda Bowskill of Canada taking first place in the Laser Radial class and USA sailor Abbie Carlson winning the Laser 4.7 class.
Day 1: The first day of racing had wind starting at 6 knots and building to 14 knots. Charlie Buckingham took the lead in the first day in the 69 boat Laser class, finishing with a 3,2,1. Closely behind with a tied 7 points were American Chris Barnard and Brazil’s Bruno Fontes. The Laser Radial class also saw tight racing with Canadians Brenda Bowskill and Sarah Douglas separated by just one point. Abbie Carlson of the USA and Spencer Leman of Canada were tied for first in the Laser 4.7.
Day 2: The large fleet of racers took the water for the second day of the event. A handful of siblings decided to attend the championship and make it a family experience. David, 17, John, 15, and William, 13, race on West Okoboji Lake, a six-square-mile finger of water near the Minnesota border. In a van laden with SAT workbooks, towing a tier of Lasers, the Alexander family made last the minute road trip to ABYC because of the large field of competitors. All three have their sights set on the Olympics. As David pointed out, “We figured we’d just go out and give it our best shot.” The trio has David and William racing full rig Lasers, and John in a Laser Radial. Another sibling duo was Jessica McJones, 21 and her 17-year-old brother Gavin, of nearby Rancho Palos Verde. While Gavin has been on a summer sailing circuit including the Youth Champs in North Carolina and Nationals in Houston, Jessica has just returned from her sophomore year at the US Naval Academy. Competing in the Laser Radial fleet is reminiscent of their Opti sailing days, Gavin said, when his focal point was beating his big sister. “I would just go tack on her,” he laughed, “and I still do.” Gavin said, “I’ve never sailed in such a large fleet, with so many boats on the start line. It makes racing more challenging. You can’t always tack when you want, if you don’t have a clear lane, so you can miss the shifts. And it’s hard to play the waves on the downwind run. It’s way more defensive driving.” Gavin stood 11 positions ahead of his sister at the end of six races. “It’s all very competitive and I want to do well,” Jessica said, but secretly admitted, “I’m kind of rooting for him.”
In the Laser Radial class, Brenda Bowskill had an impressive day, posting 1,2,1,1,1,1 finishes. Sarah Douglas held onto second place and Joseph Hou of the USA moved into third place.
Day 3: No racing was held on the third day.
Day 4: The final day of racing culminated with all the excitement of a major championship, including collisions, general recalls, knock-downs, and dismastings. The fleets attempted to unseat the leaders who had set themselves on the top from the first day.
Olympian Charlie Buckingham, USA, who has dominated the Laser Standard division since day one, triumphed for the 2018 Bruce Kirby Cup. With half his finishes in the regatta first-place bullets, the four-time Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association All-American, from nearby Newport Beach, held off an attack by three-time North American Champion Chris Barnard, USA, and Olympian Bruno Fontes, BRA, who finished second and third.
At the top of the leaderboard in the 80-boat Laser Radial fleet was Olympian Brenda Bowskill, CAN, who never relinquished her clutch on first place since the first day. Bowskill sailed for Canada in the 2016 Olympic Games and her performance had opponents noting she was ‘one with her boat.’ Fellow Canadian Sarah Douglas, another Olympic hopeful, took a solid second, followed by Joseph Hou, USA sailing at his home yacht club.
In the 4.7 class, Abbie Carlson, USA, and Spencer Leman CAN, were tied or trading places throughout the regatta. In the end, Carlson edged out Leman, for the Laser 4.7 honors with Erik Hou, brother of Joseph Hou, taking third.
“What makes me most proud, as Race Chair for an event of this caliber, is all the teams from around the world and the US who make a point to come up and tell us what a wonderful event this is, and how terrific the hospitality is at Alamitos Bay Yacht Club,” said Spotskey. “They truly appreciate being here, competing at and enjoying this awesome venue. That makes us feel pretty special. That’s why we do this.”
Tom White, representing The Moorings, added, “It’s an honor for The Moorings to be a part of the International Laser Class 2018 North American Championship, hosted by the beautiful Alamitos Bay Yacht Club. We could not have asked for a better platform to showcase our yacht charter vacations.” With a global field of people who love to sail, from teens to septuagenarians, the Laser class an ideal alliance. “All of us at The Moorings look forward to working with the ILCA again in the future.”
- Charlie Buckingham USA
- Chris Barnard USA
- Bruno Fontes BRA
- Henry Marshall USA
- Juan Maegli GUA
- Brenda Bowskill CAN
- Sarah Douglas CAN
- Joseph Hou USA
- Ricky Welch USA
- Maura Dewey CAN
- Abbie Carlson USA
- Spencer Leman CAN
- Erik Hou USA
- Katherine Nelson USA
- Sammy Farkas USA