Sailors Lettsome and Allen represent the VI at prestigious World Championships

BVI’s Thad Lettsome at the Hempel World Cup Series 2019. Photo copyright: Sailing energy/World Sailing

Thad Lettsome and Samuel Allen represented the Virgin Islands overseas at prestigious World Championships this month.

Thad Lettsome
17 year old Thad Lettsome’s finished in 19th position at the 2019 Youth Sailing World Championships in Poland. Lettsome posted three top 10 finishes across the nine race series, remained composed and showed good tactical skills, sticking to and executing his plan for each race.

Day three was the best day for Lettsome when winds increased to range from 12-18 knots, much less variable and building through the day. Using sound tactics and boat on boat strategy, he finished 7th in the first race of the day. With stronger winds in the final race, Thad was able to overcome being on the wrong side of the first shift and pass 14 other boats on the final upwind leg to secure ninth to place him in the top five for the day.

“It has been a really difficult regatta for me, I am one of the larger sailors in the fleet and prefer to sail in the stronger breeze which we only saw on one day. I am happy with how I worked on my tactics and starts and I know I can battle the top sailors but I still have plenty to work on,” said Lettsome.

Competing in the Laser Radial, he faced 56 other sailors from around the world in this prestigious one-sailor per nation event. It was a very challenging regatta with the wind strength under 10 knots for 7 of the 9 races leading to mixed fortunes and a high scoring regatta for all competitors.

This was Lettsome’s third time at the Championships, where he finished in 33rd place in 2017 in China and 14th in 2019 in the USA.

The Youth Sailing World Championships is the pinnacle event for youth sailors. Held annually since 1971, it is the event that highlights sailing’s future Olympic, America’s Cup and professional superstars in the sport.

Lettsome was also a part of the World Sailing Emerging Nations Program which includes a training clinic just prior to the regatta. The Royal BVI Yacht Club thanks World Sailing for their continued and valuable support for up and coming athletes.

Pan Am Games
Next up, Lettsome will join the VI’s track and field senior athltes and travel to Peru as part of the VI team competing at the Pan American Games. Awarded a Universality Place, Lettsome will compete in the men’s one person dinghy event sailing a Laser against 21 sailors from across North America, South America, Central America and the Caribbean. He is the first VI sailor since the 1990s to compete at a Pan Am Games which is also a qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“I am eager and excited to get back into the Laser,” said Lettsome. “It will be a very different regatta [to Poland] and I’ve got the opportunity to have a go at qualifying for one of the two remaining Olympic spots for North American sailors.”

Lettsome has the additional honour of being the territory’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony. Racing will start on August 3 through to August 10.

Follow the coverage from Peru with Dean ‘The Sportsman’ Greenaway’s daily reports and radio broadcasts on CBN 90.9FM.

Samuel Allen
On 6 July, Team BVI youth sailor Samuel Allen travelled to Antigua to take part in the 2019 Optimist World Championships. 259 sailors from 65 nations took part in this prestigious event.

Allen was assigned to the Emerald fleet after the six race qualifying series. A further four races were completed after the final day’s racing was cancelled due to small craft weather warnings! Antigua certainly delivered up some Caribbean treats with conditions ranging from champagne sailing to wet, wild and windy. Unfortunately, Allen had to carry two letter scores from day two due to illness but remained committed to finish overall in 251st position.

The RBVIYC thanks team Trinidad and Tobago for their support throughout the regatta.

The Optimist class is the biggest international sailing class for youth sailors who may compete up to the age of 15. It is a notable marker that many of sailing’s greatest stars began their sailing journey in the Optimist.

Lettsome Finishes On a High at 2018 Youth Worlds

By Royal BVI Yacht Club

Thad Lettsome finished in 14th place at the 2018 Youth Sailing World Championships in Corpus Christi, Texas. Photo: Jen Edney/World Sailing

Thad Lettsome finished the 2018 Youth Sailing World Championships in 14th place. Racing in the 58 strong Boy’s Laser Radial event Lettsome pulled out all the stops on the final day of racing to clinched a 5th place and raise himself one place up the leaderboard.

Racing took place from 16-20 July with two races per day until the final day when one race was sailed. Lettsome sprang out of the blocks on day one with a 13th and a 6th and continued to punch out all but two top 20 finishes. Proving that consistency is key and ending the regatta with his best result is a terrific boost.

“It was an epic day today, I had to battle really hard with the Spanish sailor to get ahead of him overall,” said Lettsome. “We worked on a plan and I believe I executed it the best I could.”

“There were just four points separating 11th to 14th,” commented coach Chris Watters. “On a normal day a fifth would have moved him up all those spots but all the other competitors in that range put out their best race as well! It was really great to see them all step up.”

There were 382 competitors from 66 nations at this year’s event racing in nine events – this is the best of the best. In December, Lettsome travelled to China for his first Youth Worlds and finished a very creditable 33th place.

“I am very proud of Thad and his performance this year, he has accomplished a huge amount in the last six months,” said Coach Watters.

At 16 years of age, Lettsome has another two years of eligibility to compete at this championship which in 2019 will be hosted by Gdynia, Poland.

Earlier in July, Lettsome finished in 10th place at the US Laser Radial Nationals which he used a training event for the Worlds. Next up will be CORK regatta in Kingston, Canada from 13-17 August. He also represents the Tabor Academy racing Club 420s in the high school circuit.

The Royal BVI Yacht Club thanks World Sailing for the support from the ENP and for putting on another great event, coach Chris Watters and everyone who supports the Youth Sailing Programme in the BVI.

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ENP Scholarship
Lettsome was awarded a scholarship by World Sailing to join their Emerging Nations Programme (ENP) which included a coaching clinic in the days leading up to the Championships. “The clinic is a great opportunity for the sailors to get used to the area before the competition starts, fine tune and prepare for sailing with a big fleet of boats.” said Lettsome.

About the Youth Sailing World Championships
The Youth Sailing World Championships is the premiere event on the youth racing calendar. With just one entry per nation per event it is the ultimate achievement to gain the opportunity to represent your country.

First contested in 1971 a long list of sailing greats have won medals at this event as they emerged onto the international stage.

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.