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Olympic hopes, Finns and Lasers meet at Alamitos Bay YC

by Rich Roberts on 9 May 2014
Trevor Burd came from Marblehead to train with Brad Funk on a 49er Rich Roberts
Blessed by a refurbished boatyard and docks, the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club has returned in full stride this spring as a capital of small boat racing.

Events to be hosted include the Finn class North American Championships May 16-18, the usual Memorial Day Regatta for various classes May 24-25 and the Laser class North American Championships June 12-15 --- all mixed in with a month-long training session through May for many of the 42 US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider campaigners currently polishing their world class talents in the Olympic classes with eyes on Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

It will be a busy time. Despite losing use of its yard, hoists and launching ramps for several months, ABYC somehow managed to sustain its year-round racing schedule through the volunteer efforts of its membership and docking support of the adjacent Long Beach Yacht Club, and now it's all back up to speed.

The Sperry Top-Sider sailors will be working with Senior Olympic Coach Luther Carpenter and several other coaches, including two-time Olympic medalist Charlie McKee and multiple class world champion Dave Ullman.

ABYC Commodore Jennifer Kuritz said, 'Apparently, sailing in Long Beach is similar to the venue in Rio. I'm looking forward to meeting some of our Olympic hopefuls.'

One of those is Laser sailor Charlie Buckingham, an ABYC member from nearby Newport Beach, Calif. who was a four-time all-American and twice college sailor of the year while competing at Georgetown U. in Washington D.C. He is training with U.S. team coach Mark Littlejohn at ABYC.

Others on the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider include ABYC's own Sydney Bolger, sailing a 470 with Carly Shevitz of Santa Barbara, and the 470 team of Annie Haeger, East Troy, Wis., and Briana Provancha, San Diego, who won a bronze medal for third place among 51 boats in last month's ISAF World Sailing Cup at Hyeres, France.

Another is Finn sailor Caleb Paine, 23, of St. Francis YC, who just missed a podium finish with a fourth place in France and will intensify his busy month by competing in the Finn NAs next week.

'Absolutely,' he said. 'This is a great opportunity.'

The Sperry Top-Sider program was formed by US. Sailing to build the country's sailing strength with financial and coaching support for promising young talent.

Carpenter said, 'The talent and efforts of the world of sailing have turned into a full-time professional sport. To have a chance at a podium finish our sailors need to be on the water all the time and be fully focused on campaigning. It's a race of who can put in more productive days on the water --- that's what we are up against, and what we are doing here in Long Beach: great repetitive hours and days for a month straight.

'Our team is funded through a combination of title sponsor Sperry Top-Sider, USOC, donors and sponsors to our program and each campaign's personal fund-raising efforts. All of these are key support sources and allow our athletes to log those critical days on the water.'

Although racing isn't on the Sperry Top-Sider training schedule this month, Long Beach also figures into the plan.

'The venue here is just what we need,' Carpenter said, 'with the winds and the waves and the wonderful facilities of the club.'

One participant, Kristen Lane of San Francisco, said as she rigged her 49er FX boat on the beach next to the club, 'This is one of my favorite places to go sailing, and ABYC is the perfect small boat club. I feel like a kid again whenever I come here.'

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