Alamitos Bay Yacht Club's annual Memorial Day Regatta held on Saturday and Sunday had single-handed sailors Charlie Buckingham in Laser Full Rig and Matt Struble in A Class catamarans each winning all seven of their races, but they missed the glory afterward.
No problem. At awards time, Buckingham, America's leading Laser sailor, and Struble were already headed home for nearby Newport Beach and San Diego, respectively, but Buckingham had a notable stand-in.
In his absence, William Sutton IV, age 12, from Richmond YC in northern California was asked to receive the US Sailing Area J Zucker Perpetual Trophy for first place in the Area J semifinals---although Buckingham, 25, will be the one advancing to the national championships.
Sutton, nicknamed 'Berky' for his home in Berkeley, won't be eligible for that event for another five years, and he didn't exactly finish second here. In fact, choosing to sail a less-demanding Laser Radial in the ocean fleet against stronger competition rather than inside the protected bay, he finished last in every race---but he finished every race, although missing the time limit in one.
And he's learning from conditions like Sunday when his 92 pounds were tested by choppy water and a steady breeze building to 12 knots.
'I learned not to rock a lot,' he said, 'and to have fun … and to just enjoy being 12 years old.'
He also has goals beyond sailing. While he already plays the violin and speaks Mandarin, he also wants to be an orthopedic surgeon.
His was one of 135 boats in 16 classes. Other impressive performances in winning six of seven races were logged by Mission Bay YC's Scott Miller and his ABYC crew, John Williams, in Formula 18 catamarans; Randy and Kathryn Smith of San Francisco YC in the Mercury class; ABYC's Robert Rice and Matt McDermaid in the Portsmouth mixed class and Bruce Fleming of Hawaii's Kaneohe YC in the singlehanded Weta trimarans.
The event was the first of ABYC's traditional regattas for small but, in some cases, exceptionally fast boats to be followed by the Fourth of July Regatta in early summer, preceding the Labor Day Regatta in September and Turkey Day for Thanksgiving in November, drawing competitors from San Diego to San Francisco.
by Rich Roberts
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8:01 AM Mon 27 May 2013GMT
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