'11 Hinman

For the Hinman US Team race championship, I teamed up with two long-time friends and competitors, Tyler Sinks and Cy Thompson. After graduating from school last year, all of us came together and decided to form a team race team since we are great friends and respect each other's attitudes and abilities on the water. At first, sailing on a team with guys I've been competitive with for most of my career was a bit of an adjustment, but after doing a couple of tune up events in the year leading up to the Hinman, we started to develop good team chemistry and felt ready for a good result. Also, competing in the Hinman was a nice break from a month-long Laser training camp I did in San Francisco. It gave me the opportunity to catch up with some friends and team up with my former college crew, Alex Taylor. Regardless of the result, the event was going to be a good one no matter what.

The regatta had 15 teams registered and the format was such that all 15 teams would race each other in the first round, and the results from this round robin would separate the field into a top-six group and nine team consolation round. From there, the top six would do a double round robin, which would determine seeding for the final knockout rounds. In the knockout rounds, the 3 and 4 seed would do a best of five series for third place. Similarly, the 1 and 2 seeds would do the same for first place. In terms of scores, the results from the each round wouldn't carry over. At the end of the day, the most important important thing was your seed.

For the first round, our team goal was to simply have a good round that would put us in the top six. We knew there was some room for error wanted to learn from our mistakes so we could carry those lessons into the second round. For the second round, we wanted to eliminate as many errors as possible and end the round with one of the top two seeds. This plan would put us in a position to win the event.

In reality, the first two rounds went just as planned. We had a good, not outstanding, first round and ended it with a 10-4 record. We made some minor errors, but more importantly, we comfortably made it into the top six. We carried the lessons from the first round and had an outstanding top-six double round robin. We went undefeated until our very last race, ending the round robin with a 9-1 record in the first seed. We were exactly where we wanted to be going into the final knockout round.

After finishing the double round of six, the deteriorating wind conditions prevented the race committee from completing the knockout round. From a competitive standpoint, it was unfortunate that we were unable to go against the two seed in the best of five series. However, our great performance in the second round allowed us to win the event!

Winning this event with my team was a great experience and the depth of the playing field made it feel that much better. Now, I'm back to more training in the Laser for the down under circuit, which culminates with the ISAF combine Olympics classes world championship.

Thanks for all the support,

Charlie Buckingham