Above: Photo by Chuck Nadeau
With CJ as inspiration, steadfast family and friends make the now-prestigious event happen
CJ Buckley’s parents are in awe of the CJ Buckley Regatta that began in 2003 out of a well of sorrow over CJ’s death from a brain tumor in 2002. They marvel at CJ’s friends who return – now sometimes with families of their own in tow – to make the regatta happen year after year – from all over the country. And they are grateful for the family friends in their commitment to this event that raises money for Greenwich Bay Sailing Association scholarships.
“We are so humbled by the participation of the volunteers who make this happen,” said Carter Buckley, CJ’s dad. Lucy Buckley, CJ’s mom, agrees. “It’s GBSA and the volunteers who have made this.”
The regatta, run completely by volunteers, has not just continued each summer, but it has become the National Junior Team Race Championship for 420s.
It’s fitting, since CJ loved the unique challenge of team racing.
“It’s the strategy of the team,” said Carter. “It’s like playing a game of chess on the water.”
Justin and Kyle Assad – former teammates of CJ’s – do much of the heavy lifting pulling the regatta off. Their contacts in the sailing world are such that they have been able to get some of the best college sailing coaches in the country to volunteer to be umpires.
“It becomes a recruiting event,” said Lucy. The sailors are all high school students.
This year, there were sailors from 17 different states and the District of Columbia, Canada, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It’s become a rite of passage for many talented young sailors – more than 3,000 sailors from all over have participated in this regatta.
Lucy and Carter acknowledge there is a bittersweet element to the event.
“It’s a wonderful event. It’s touched so many people,” said Lucy. “It’s mixed. You think about what he would be doing. Yet you see his friends, you imagine he would be with them.”
Winners: 1st place – West Coast Best Coast (same as last year ), 2nd place – No Hesitation, 3rd place – Men at Work; Sportsmanship Award – Port Tack Rule. Find all the results on the website HERE.