'Sailing defined him'

Sailors compete in 16th annual CJ Buckley Regatta

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The 16th Annual CJ Buckley Regatta Race was held on Monday and Tuesday this week at the Goddard Memorial State Park in East Greenwich, as well as the East Greenwich Yacht Club.

CJ Buckley was an avid sailor and racer at the Greenwich Bay Sailing Association and Tabor Academy. The Regatta was evolved into the Club 420 Association’s National Junior Team Race Championship.

CJ was diagnosed with brain cancer two days after winning a regatta and two weeks prior to his 16th birthday. He passed away after battling the disease for 16 months.

CJ’s motto was, “sailing is life – the rest is just details,” and is still celebrated at this event, which has become a must-see for those in the sailing community … not just in East Greenwich, but all through Rhode Island and the national sailing community.

This year’s regatta featured 24 teams made up of three boats each. Teams traveled from locations such as Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and even England to compete in the event.

With over 150 sailors, 75 volunteers and 16 umpires, this event has grown into something much more than just a small-town race.

“It evolved from a small, local event into a national event. It’s one of the most popular and biggest team races in the country. The kids love it because it’s so well-run,” said Lucy Buckley, CJ’s mother.

CJ’s father Carter is proud of the growth of the event over the course of its history, and the way that it serves as more than just a race.

“He was a passionate sailor. That was one of things that defined him. This regatta is not only to celebrate CJ and serve as a race, but it is also a reunion for many of those who participate as well,” said Carter.

The Joe Andruzzi Foundation, which was created by former Patriots great Joe Andruzzi, is committed to aiding families who are fighting cancer as well as cancer research. The Andruzzi Foundation has helped contribute to the event for years and once again had staff members present to assist.

Andruzzi was connected with Carter during the time of his illness, and quickly developed a friendship with the entire Buckley family that still continues to this day.

The regatta is dependent on the generosity of sponsors and donors. Registration fees also go toward a scholarship fund. Hosts for the event are Jason Dittelman, Commodore of the East Greenwich Yacht Club and Dave MacMillan, Board Chair of the East Greenwich Bay Sailing Association.

Lucy was happy with the turnout of this year’s race, and is proud to say that her son’s passion for sailing is still celebrated to this day.

“The main thing is that it makes us feel very proud of our son and to see kids his own age come back each year to help. It spreads his legacy which is to live life to the fullest. He never gave up, and he lived life to the fullest. Even in the months following his diagnosis he continued to race and even won a regatta. He lived by his motto,” said Lucy.

 “The cancer didn’t define CJ, sailing defined him,” added Carter. “This regatta evolved into a wonderful, wonderful situation. I know that if CJ was alive that he would be front and center just loving it.”

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