by Rich Roberts
Suggesting that talent knows no borders, up to 200 of the best singlehanded sailors in the Western Hemisphere will descend on Alamitos Bay Yacht Club for the combined 2014 Laser Class North American and U.S. Singlehanded Championships June 12-15.
Laser sailing action
Adults, juniors and masters, male and female, and members of the U.S. and Canadian national sailing teams and other competitors from Canada to the Caribbean and South America will race in three classes: Laser Full, Laser Radial and Radial 4.7.
They plan to run three races daily Thursday through Sunday on trapezoid courses inside or outside the Long Beach Harbor breakwater starting at noon each day, conditions permitting.
The fleets will include Brazil's Bruno Fontes, the world's fourth-ranked Laser Full sailor, and the top two Americans, Charles Buckingham and Chris Barnard of Newport Beach. Last month the latter won the 26-boat class in ABYC's Memorial Day Regatta.
Buckingham and Barnard also have been among US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider members participating in a spring training program at ABYC.
The U.S. Sailing Singlehanded Champions will receive the prestigious George D. O’Day trophy for men and Helen Willis Hanley trophy for women.
U.S. Sailing is taking a new tack to some of its championships. For the first time they will be integrated as part of a larger class event.
With the growth of one-design sailing in the U.S. and with ever more events in the sailing calendar, it became clear that the traditional qualifying series was limiting the number of sailors who could compete for the O'Day and Hanley trophies.
Liz Walker, US Sailing championship director, said, 'Our goal is to allow more people to have a chance to compete for these historic championships. As the Laser class is one of the largest singlehanded classes in the world, identifying the top U.S. singlehanded sailors this year through the North Americans is a natural fit.'
The men’s Laser and the women’s Laser Radial are Olympic class events; Laser 4.7 features youth participants.
The Laser, a Canadian designed dinghy, is the largest dinghy class in the world with more than 200,000 boats built.