Charlie Buckingham is a lot like most West Coast University students; he has a clear objective and it will take dedication and hard work to achieve his goals.
“When it comes to accomplishing my dreams I leave nothing on the table. I work very hard, pursuing smaller benchmarks along the path to my ultimate goal, constantly improving and maximizing on those efforts,” he said. “Just like West Coast University, I aim to be ahead of the curve.”
The 24-year-old California native graduated from Georgetown University in 2011 and is now training full-time in hopes of representing the United States as a sailing competitor in the 2016 Olympic Games. Like athletes in other sports, Olympic sailors rely heavily upon support from sponsors and individual donors for their training and competition. West Coast University recently announced a Buckingham sponsorship.
“I don’t make a living doing this – it is my passion to earn a spot in the Olympics and pursue a gold medal for my country, and that would not be possible without sponsors,” Charlie said. “I am very grateful to David Pyle and West Coast University for supporting me. It is a privilege to represent the university as an athlete.”
West Coast University has launched a new community initiative focused on health, wellness and encouraging active lifestyles by providing support to sports programs, local athletes and athletic teams in the community – sponsoring Charlie is the inaugural effort of this new endeavor. While the university does not have its own athletic programs like those of a traditional university, the lessons from competitive sport, and the examples that dedicated athletes set for students, are among the many reasons why WCU leaders are excited to support Charlie’s journey to Olympic gold.
“I’ve known Charlie and his family for a very long time and I am tremendously impressed with his talent as an athlete and his passionate dedication to representing our nation in the Olympic Games,” said David Pyle, Executive Chairman of the Board. “His commitment to excellence serves as a stellar example to our students.”
Sailing is one of the oldest sports in Olympic history, starting at the Paris Games in 1900; it has been part of every Olympic competition since. It is a sport that requires tremendous skill, strength, mental and physical endurance.
“I started sailing when I was eight years old and grew to love it,” Charlie said. “It was in college that I became more serious about training and competing as a competitive athlete in the sport.”
Within the ten sailing disciplines contested every four years at the Olympics, each qualified country is allowed only one representative, making the Olympic sailing competition the pinnacle regatta of the sport; securing that spot and winning a gold medal for the United States is Charlie’s goal. Training full-time is a disciplined, sometimes grueling experience. In addition to spending many hours on the water practicing in his Laser vessel (a one-person, single-sail dinghy that prominently features the West Coast University logo), Charlie undergoes rigorous physical and mental conditioning through exercise and coaching sessions.
“In this kind of competition, physical or mental fatigue will hinder you, which is why I train so hard. Sailing is a sport where no two events are alike – it is constantly testing your abilities to read the wind and water, which is one of the reasons I enjoy it so much,” he said. “Regattas are largely defined by factors completely out of my control, such as wind strength, weather patterns, currents, and sea state.”
Professional sailing is not a simple race on the water; most events are week-long competitions divided up into a series of regattas, where athletes could race for more than 14 hours, relying on their own technical prowess and personal endurance to out-race their competitors.
As he prepares for the Olympic Trials to be held in 2015, Charlie competes in various International Sailing Federation (ISAF) events around the world to gain experience and hone his abilities. His next competition is the Laser World Championship being held in Al Mussanah, Oman in November.