Sailing to the finish line

July 01, 2001

Paul Clinton

NEWPORT BEACH -- After three days of intense sailing, 15-year-old

Zachary Brown of San Diego crossed the finish line of the 11th race to

win the Balboa National Pram Championship in Newport Harbor.

The event, which ended Saturday, is a competition of the top young

sailers in the nation between the ages of 11 and 15.

Charlie Buckingham, a 12-year-old from Newport Beach, finished second


to Brown. Parker Shinn, 14, of San Diego finished third.

The 20 competitors in the regatta were handpicked by the members of

the Balboa Yacht Club, who sponsored the event. They were selected from

four regions -- northeast, southeast, southwest and northwest.

"One of the things I like about this sport is that you have these kids

on the water four hours a day," Event Chairman Terry Schilling said. "All

that time, every decision is in their own hands."

On the final day of competition, the 18 boys and two girls jockeyed

for final position on the diamond-shaped course in the harbor.

After crossing the start line, the racers tacked back and forth as

they maneuvered their 8-foot prams into the wind toward a "windward

mark," an orange buoy at the top of the course. They circled the buoy,

then headed downwind toward a "leeward marker," a buoy mirroring the

first at the opposite end of the course.

They finished where they started, midway between the buoys.

Wind speeds on the final day picked up to no more than approximately

five knots, race officials said, which gave the children an opportunity

to use sailing tactics to move their boats.

The young sailors navigated the race course in brand new Naples

sabots, which were bought and donated to the race by an anonymous donor

at the yacht club.

Eight states were represented in the event, including competitors from

Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Minnesota, Texas, Wisconsin and Florida. The

race had 12 in-state entries.

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