Thad Lettsome among Top 30 in ISAF World U21 Laser Championships | Island Sun

Thad Lettsome among Top 30 in ISAF World U21 Laser Championships

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Caption: Thad Lettsome completed ISAF Worlds U21 Laser Sailing in Portugal

By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway

Thad Lettsome had a Top 30 finish in the ISAF World U21 Laser Sailing Championships that wrapped up Sunday in Villamar, Portugal. Lettsome’s 29th place of the 158 boats, was the BVI’s highest finish since Robbie Hirst became the territory’s first World Championships medalist in any sport, when he won a silver medal in the ISAF Laser World Jr. Championships in 1987.

With seven of the 12 scheduled races held—despite losing two windless days—Lettsome said he was happy with his performance as it was the only time he would sail in the championships that were hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic, over the last few years.

“It was a difficult fleet, the best Under 21 sailors in the world and it as my first and last U21 event as I’ll be 21 in January, so I definitely learned a good amount for the event and was able to see where I stacked up against the best of the best,” Lettsome told Island Sun Sports on Tuesday after returning to school at Tulane University. “The experience was unique because it was a big boat fleet—80 boats in the fleet which I’ve sailed in before—but in this case as you can see, I’ve gotten a 4th, 9th, and low scores like that but in this fleet, I’m racing for first, which is unlike other fleets where I’m racing for mid fleet positions against the senior guys. So I’ve learned in this fleet about the importance of being patient and waiting for your phase of the breeze to come in.”

The Laser Sailor said in the championships, he also learned the importance of staying in phase with the breeze, being patient and not chasing the different shifts in the breeze. Furthermore, he said that he also learned about keeping the speed up on the downwind and not necessarily trying to surf every wave, because with 80 boats in the fleet, it gets congested and you don’t necessarily have your own track or line on the downwind to surf, but you just need to keep your speed up and that will help you overall in getting to the mark ahead of other boats.

Lettsome said if you start at one end of the line with 80 boats, you can’t necessarily cross in the middle and chase the breeze on the other side of the course but you have to wait and be patient and also wait for your side to kick in. He said it was something he learned and did quite well on. He said that now, one big focus with every competition will be his starts.

“That was one of my goals going in and I think I held that goal quite well, with most of my starts being good to great starts,” he reflected. “To be more consistent, obviously, instead of having five good starts I’d like to have seven good starts that would help, but, in terms of the consistency, it was a very unstable and light event and it was pretty difficult to be consistent. A lot of people ate some big scores so I’d say that two better starts would have been the way to stay consistent there, but it was really difficult with a lot of lead changes, position changes within the races. Where you see the final result end up, isn’t necessarily where I was throughout the race—sometimes better or sometimes worse.”  

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