CJ Buckley was good at bringing people together.
He did it when he lived and promoted his passion for sailing and those who knew him and loved him continue to do it in his memory.
In fact, the ninth annual CJ Buckley Regatta/Club 420 Association National Junior Team Race Championship that started yesterday is bigger than ever with 36 competing teams, 108 boats and 216 sailors. The teams have come from as far away as Minnesota, Florida, Bermuda and the Virgin Islands.
“I’m awed, I’m incredibly grateful,” said Lucy Buckley, CJ’s mother who along with her husband Carter embraced the idea of a regatta in their son’s memory.
CJ’s fellow sailors, Justin and Kyle Assad, Tyler Baeder, and Austin Brown started the regatta in 2003 as a way to remember their friend.
“CJ’s enthusiasm was contagious. It was a gift to everyone who knew him, and we wanted to find a way to continue to share his courageous spirit with young sailors for a long time to come,” said Justin, Co-Head Coach of the Dartmouth University Sailing Team. Kyle, who will teach history at Annapolis High School in the fall, adds, “This event not only allows young sailors to build their skills and passion on the water, but also raises money for scholarships for new sailors to discover and share CJ’s enthusiasm for the sport.”
Tyler made the trip from San Francisco to be a part of this week’s regatta. He credits Justin with really building the regatta.
Justin is modest about the work going into the event. Planning starts in the fall and there are meetings throughout the year.
In addition, as Lucy observes, a team of adult volunteers – in some cases entire families – keep coming back to run the 3-day regatta and handle such tasks as preparing more than 300 sandwiches, running the races that take from 8 to 12 minutes each, keeping score, registration and answering countless questions.
In addition to the Buckleys the core group includes their daughter Helen and husband, Dan Cappetta of West Roxbury,; Karen and Ned Murtha, John and Pat Langella and Doug and Debbie Nisbet of Warwick; Dave and Doreen Baeder and Jamie and Ann Millard of East Greenwich.
Hosted by the Greenwich Bay Sailing Association (GBSA) and East Greenwich Yacht Club, the three boats of each team are matched against an equal number of boats from another team. Racing involves a strategy of positioning boats so that a team gets the least points at the end of a race. A first place boat gets a single point and so forth down to the final boat with 6 points.
There are two racing circles, both located in Greenwich Bay.
Because of a CJ Buckley Scholarship, Dan Medici, 14, of Johnston, is has been enrolled in the sailing instructional and racing programs at GBSA for four years. This summer he is training to compete in 420s.
“Daniel is honored to receive the CJ Buckley Scholarship, and we are both very grateful,” said Dan’s mom Karen Medici. “This scholarship has really sparked a passion in him. Every day he gets up and can’t wait to get to GBSA and get in a boat. He will compete in the Narragansett Bay Yachting Association (NBYA) Junior Race Week later this month in 420s for the first time, and he couldn’t be more excited.”
CJ’s passion was sailing. From his early days as a “wharf rat” at the Providence Community Boating Center to his experiences as a member of the sailing teams of the Greenwich Bay Sailing Association and Tabor Academy, he loved the excitement and challenge and feeling of freedom on the water. He was a talented sailor and a fierce competitor and he particularly relished the cooperative effort and strategic maneuvering inherent in team racing. He lost a battle to brain cancer in 2002.
Sponsors include Doyle Sails (Todd Johnston , Koch Eye Associates, New England Ropes, Zim Sailing, New England Yacht Rigging, Dimension-Polyant, Airport Taxi, Manning Property Management, Brewer Yacht Yards/Marina, Crystal Springs Water, Homestead Bakery, Shane Awards Inc., Harken, Vineyard Vines, Laser Performance Sailing and Team One Newport. Many other businesses and individuals donate funds, equipment and time to support the effort and ensure the success of the regatta.