The LaserPerformance Men’s and Women’s Singlehanded National Championships, co-hosted by Santa Barbara Yacht Club and the University of California Santa Barbara, wrapped up on Nov. 10 and St. Mary’s College of Maryland sophomore Leo Boucher, from West River, Maryland, claimed the men’s championship.
“Going into the event I believed I had a shot at winning the whole event,” Boucher said. “I felt confident in my skills and physical training. I had been working hard on and off the water.”
Boucher placed second in the regatta last year and solidified his spot on the national stage this year after taking first at the Middle Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association Singlehanded Championship in September.
“Having won the two qualifying events before the nationals and being the only sailor from the top three finishers from last year returning to the event, my expectations were very high,” Boucher said. “I knew it was going to be a tough regatta.”
On Nov. 9, the first day of the event, the conditions were fairly ideal with sunny skies above and wind speeds of 7-10 knots and peaking at 15 knots. Boucher was positioned in third place out of the 18 sailors total after the first day of racing. Ten races in total were completed on the first day of competition, and the competitors sailed in the Santa Barbara Channel.
“I kept my head high whenever something did not go as planned and moved onto the next race,” Boucher said.
On the second day of competition, the fleet completed four races which solidified Boucher’s title. Boucher placed top five in nine of the races and finished the regatta with 65 points, edging out the second-place winner, Richard McCann from the University of Miami by three points.
“I was super excited to have won the collegiate single-handed nationals,” Boucher said. “I finished second last year and was happy to see that I have improved. It was also a great feeling to be the first sailor from St. Mary’s to have ever won this national trophy.”
Boucher is the only sailor from St. Mary’s College of Maryland to ever finish in the top two at the event. He was awarded the Glen S. Foster Trophy for his first place performance.
“The competition in the fleet was tough and Leo did a great job hanging in there because he didn’t have many chances to pull away from the fleet,” said Bill Ward, director of sailing at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. “In his last race he tried to stay ahead of the close competition and keep his lead. Leo sails Lasers outside of school and was able to practice at school for the two qualifiers leading up to this event with his teammates.”
At a young age, Boucher began to sail and his passion for the sport blossomed from there.
“I have been sailing since I was 7 or 8 years old,” Boucher said. “I started sailing in Annapolis and have loved racing ever since. I chose St. Mary’s College of Maryland because I enjoy the liberal arts college atmosphere with small classes and a high focus on student needs.”
Boucher wants to continue to improve upon his craft during his time with sailing in college.
“Moving forward in college sailing, I would like to continue improving on other aspects of the sport with the aspiration of being a college sailor of the year in my four years of college,” Boucher said. “Individually, I want to continue my single-handed sailing career. I will be traveling to Melbourne, Australia in February for about two and a half weeks, competing in the Laser Worlds Championship. I am very excited about this trip and look forward to competing with the world’s best sailors. Hopefully, it will lead me to a new level of sailing.”