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Leo Boucher Competes in the World Sailing Combined Worlds Championship in the Hague

Updated: Dec 26, 2023

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to compete in the World Sailing combined worlds championship in the Hague. It was exciting to see all the Olympic classes in one spot just like at the Olympics. Being in the Netherlands was a great experience. I was staying in an Airbnb about a 10-minute bike ride from the venue. Due to the generosity and support of the AYC Foundation, I was able to arrive in the Hague a few days before the event, which allowed me to become familiar with the venue. Over my two weeks in the Hague, I was able to meet and visit other athletes from around the world in town while doing things such as grocery shopping or stopping for a coffee. All the American sailors gathered around for the opening ceremony before all the classes began racing. Please see the attached photo.

The ILCA 7s were set up on a beach that the event organizers had made into a boat park. It was difficult to get adjusted to the boat park. The sand from the beach was constantly in everyone’s gear and rigging. People may not think that sand is a big deal to sailors; however, when you are sailing in a sandy wetsuit for 2 weeks it can be very irritable to your skin and damaging to your boat. It took a few days to come up with a good system for keeping the sand on the beach and not in my wetsuit or in my boat. The ILCA7, ILCA 6, 470, 49er, 49erFx all shared the same boat park, so it was great to see the other classes prepare for their days on the water.

I arrived in The Hague a week before the regatta to adjust to the time change and get a feel for the weather patterns and waves that we might experience at the regatta. Before arriving coaches and other competitors that were familiar with the sailing conditions in The Hague had warned me of the current and the waves that we could experience while racing. The first day of training at the venue I saw what they meant, and I was hugely impressed with the conditions we had - 18-20knts with waves as tall as an ILCA 7 mast. I thought that the training I had done the two weeks prior to the event in San Francisco would pay dividends if the conditions held. The rest of the training days saw moderate and lights winds. This ended up being very beneficial as I was able to see how strong the current really was when the breeze was light.

When the event started, we unfortunately saw lighter winds than what I was expecting and then what I have been training for. The fleet was strong. I found some weaknesses in my sailing. These weaknesses were being exposed with the high level of competitors I was facing. Primarily my starting skills were not up to par with the rest of the fleet. Starting on a 70-boat line in the ocean with no line site and 3 knots of current moving along the course made things extremely difficult. My time and distance to the line was severely skewed by the current. All of this topped with starting against sailors with the best starting tactics and techniques in the world showed that I have a lot of room for improvement. I was pleasantly surprised that my boat speed was up to par with the rest of the fleet. I was fast on the water. However, starting second row limited the opportunities for me to make up time on the racecourse.

After racing this event at the Hague, I have a better grasp of what I need to do so that I can improve my starting. The simple solution is to do more racing in big fleets. I plan to work with some international training partners and take part in some coach regattas in the next few months. This should help me to improve on the skills I need to qualify the USA for a berth to the 2024 Olympic games and myself in February at the Olympic trials.

I want to thank the AYC Foundation for their continued help and support. Without the AYC Foundation’s support none of this would have been possible.

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