By Craig Bohnert | April 01, 2016, 10:52 a.m. (ET)


Charlie Buckingham, the reigning North American champion, has qualified for his first Olympic Games during competition at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Sitting in 10th place entering the final day of Laser competition, Buckingham has opened enough distance between him and Erik Bowers, his rival for the opportunity to occupy the sole U.S. spot in Rio. Bowers slipped from 25th to 29th position during Friday’s racing.

A graduate of Georgetown University, he was a two-time College Sailor of the Year. Buckingham, 27, placed seventh at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games and had the same result at the Rio Olympic Test Event and the 2014 world championships.

Sailors who already have earned the spots in Rio are: Thomas Barrows and Joe Morris in the 49er class; Paris Henken and Helena Scutt in the 49er FX; Bora Gulari and Louisa Chafee in Nacra 17; 2012 Olympian Paige Railey in Laser Radial; and Caleb Paine in Finn. The United States will field a full team in Rio as it has qualified to compete in all 10 Olympic classes, as well as the three Paralympic classes.