Lettsome Leads the Region at the Youth Sailing World Champs in China

By Royal BVI Yacht Club

Thad Lettsome representing the BVI at the 47th Youth Sailing World Championships in Sanya, China has finished in 33rd position in the Laser Radial Class. Photo: ©Jesus Renedo / Sailing Energy

Thad Lettsome, representing the BVI at the 47th Youth Sailing World Championships in Sanya, China has finished in 33rd position in the Laser Radial Class.  The Laser Radial is the largest class at the event and Lettsome faced stiff competition from 50 other competitors.

Lettsome rounded out the event with a 13th position, his best result of the championships.  “Winning the start in race 9 was amazing, I rounded the top mark in 3rd place and battled throughout the entire race with the regatta leaders,” he said.

With consistent results throughout the Championship, Lettsome was pleased with his performance.  “I have really enjoyed this event,” he told us.  “I have learned so much. The wind conditions have been tricky every day and the hardest part was definitely learning to adapt to shifty conditions.

“I feel that my downwind technique has really improved.  We have also worked a lot on windward mark approach theory and the process of putting together a winning program.

“I have made lots of new friends and we will have a really solid training group moving forwards.” added Lettsome.

The final overall position of 33rd, puts Lettsome as the top finisher in the class from the Caribbean islands. St Lucia’s Luc Chevrier was 34th, Malcolm Benn-Smith from Bermuda 35th, Tijn van der Gulik (AHO) was 38th, Mateo di Blasi (ISV) 46th and Jesse Jackson from the Cayman Islands finished 49th.

15 year old Lettsome was one of the youngest competitors in the fleet (the youngest by just a few months was friend and neighbour, Mateo di Blasi from the USVI) so his achievement is all the more impressive.

The top age at this event is 19 so many of these sailors already have a wealth of experience.  “Many of the sailors are university students!” commented Coach Watters,

“Thad puts a lot of pressure on himself in terms of results so we have worked a lot on the ‘big picture’,”  continued Watters. “Strategy, goals and the process are really important and I am really impressed with how much he has developed at this event.  He is still really young and all signs point to a really strong future in sailing.”

ENP Scholarship
Lettsome was selected by World Sailing earlier this year to receive a scholarship through their Emerging Nations Programme.(ENP) and traveled to China for a training camp a few days before the event started.  “It was very valuable coming early,” said Lettsome,

“It took us 20 hours to get here but it seemed like a lot longer, we skipped a whole day!  Getting the extra time in for training and getting used to the venue was really useful.  It has been great working with a group of sailors from all over the world, it really felt like we were a team.”

“I am very grateful to my school (Tabor Academy in Massachusetts) for allowing me to take the time off from classes.  The ENP team were brilliant and having my coach Chris (Watters) with me has been great, he has really helped me focus my goals.  I would also like to thank everyone in the BVI for their support, particularly the BVI Olympic Committee and the Royal BVI Yacht Club.”

About the event
Lettsome raced in the boys Laser Radial Class against 50 other competitors. 374 competitors from 60 nations raced across nine classes and with just one spot available to each country in each class, competition even to get selected is fierce.

The Youth Worlds is the pinnacle event in the youth racing calendar and, since the first event in 1971, a long list of sailing legends including Sir Ben Ainslie and Russell Coutts and numerous Olympic medallists have won medals at this event as they emerged onto the international stage.

Racing took place from Monday 11 to Friday 15 December in Sanya, China.