by Dana Paxton
Olympic Development Team member Charlie Buckingham was recently chosen for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, after a tryout session in San Francisco earlier this month. This past year has been one of impressive achievement by Buckingham. After graduating from Georgetown University (’11) where he was a two-time College Sailor of the Year and four-time All-American, Charlie devoted himself full-time to a Laser campaign for 2016. His dedication and hard work paid off with an overall silver medal for the 2011-12 ISAF Sailing World Cup season.
We caught up with Charlie in Miami where he is training with US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider in the Laser for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Congratulations Charlie, the entire US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider is proud of you!
Charlie Buckingham: Thanks, I’m thrilled. The America’s Cup is such a big part of our sport and it feels really cool to be sort of involved in some capacity and to be able to compete in the Youth America’s Cup and I’m so happy to be part of it.
Tell us a little bit about your team and how you’ll compete together.
Charlie Buckingham: My team, Team America, tried out with Oracle Team USA and they liked our whole team and selected us as a group. This fall we’ll compete as a team with me as skipper. There is an Oracle team representing USA and San Francisco, and our team gained the U.S. entry. Nevin Snow (San Diego, Calif., Georgetown University) and Jake La Dow (San Diego, Calif., St. Mary’s College of Maryland) had match raced together and they put the team together: Graham Landy (Virginia Beach, Va., Yale University); Jake Reynolds (San Diego, Calif., College of Charleston); John Wallace (St. Petersburg, Fla., St. Mary’s College of Maryland); and Olympic Development Team member Matthew Whitehead (Tampa, Fla., University of South Florida).
I have to give a huge credit to the team I sailed with during the selection. They did a really good job of adapting to the boat and we found it’s really important to have a well-functioning and cohesive team. All I had to do is hold the tiller and they had to do all the difficult things on the front of the boat. I’m psyched to sail with these guys and excited for the road ahead. I have a really great team.
Your attention to fitness this past year must have helped on the AC45. How did you measure up in testing?
Charlie Buckingham: It’s definitely a different fitness test than I’ve ever done. I was pretty happy with my score, but it was way below where pro sailors score. To get to that level in upper body fitness, I’d have to work even harder.
Is that the main take away from the experience?
Charlie Buckingham: That and being exposed to how AC programs work, plus the level of professionalism and dedication of the athletes and staff. Everything is completely geared to winning the America’s Cup. Being around that culture of excellence is motivating. There is a lot to be learned from a campaign management perspective. The way they manage their campaigns is very efficient and translates to being a better sailor.
Speaking of the Laser, what’s your schedule for 2013 and how will it change with the Youth America’s Cup?
Charlie Buckingham: It will make my year a lot busier, but it’s interesting. I’ll be doing a ton of sailing and I think that the Youth America’s Cup is a huge opportunity to bring another type of sailing into my life that will benefit me as a sailor. I haven’t done a lot of catamaran sailing, but I think it will exercise a lot of things. As far as becoming a more complete sailor, it will really help that. I’m psyched to have the Youth America’s Cup as a complement to my Laser sailing.
The schedule is still in the works. With most of my team mates in college, I anticipate us getting together 3-4 times and go sailing on the 45. I’ll work with them between March and June, and after that there is quite a big break in the Laser schedule. We may move to San Francisco for summer training and I would probably do a lot of Laser sailing, because San Francisco is one of the best Laser venues in the world.
The general plan right now is three ISAF Sailing World Cup events with (Miami, Palma, Hyeres), then the Delta Lloyd event in Holland and maybe Sail for Gold, then Laser North Americans in July.
How do Laser skills translate to multihull sailing?
Charlie Buckingham: The good thing is that the Laser is a feel-oriented boat and there isn’t much tuning you can do. It’s all about the sailor and how he sails the boat. You get in tune. Laser sailing allows you to transfer into another boat. At first it was really difficult (on the AC 45), but it didn’t take long to get used to the boat. I learned a ton. The skill set is very transferable because it’s simple.
Will we see you sailing the new Olympic multihull Nacra 17?
Charlie Buckingham: I’m totally committed to the Laser at this point.
US Sailing website