Sailor Spotlight: Leo Boucher
Above left: Leo Sailing at the Lauderdale OCR.
Above right: Leo and Laser Gold Medalist, Tom Burton.
Leo Boucher is a high school senior from Annapolis. Leo started training in the off-season out of Toms River, NJ, to sail with friends and expose himself to top notch coaching (Read: Kyle Rogachnko, Laser Radial World Champion). What has impressed me so much about Leo is that even though he has become one of the top junior sailors in the US, he always finds time to come back and sail at the TRYC Spring and Fall Series. When here, Leo is a role model for most sailors, giving them instruction, sharing stories from big regattas, and working hard to show others what's needed to get to the top of the fleet. His mantra about sailing being "all about the journey" is the right attitude to have.
Name: Leo Boucher
Year in School: Senior
Yacht Club: Severn Sailing Association
1) Leo, for those who don't know you, give me a quick synopsis of your sailing career. I started sailing Optis when I was about 7 years old, and when I was 11 I started coming up to New Jersey to attend the TRYC Fall Series. When I was 13 I transitioned to the Laser Radial and started working more seriously on technique, hiking, and race strategy. When I was 15 I was invited to join the ODP (Olympic Development Program) where I was introduced to some great coaches and other top U.S. sailors. This last year I went to the Netherlands to the Youth Worlds, and last month I sailed in my first OCR in Fort Lauderdale.
2) What I love about what you've done the past few years is that even though you've elevated your game and sailed more nationally and internationally, you've always made a concerted effort to come sail the TRYC Spring and Fall Series. Why did you do that and how did it help you with your sailing? I came to the TRYC Spring and Fall Series for three reasons: (1) because of the great coaching, (2) Barnegat Bay is a really nice sailing venue (3) I had good friends that I could learn from and who I liked sailing with. Kyle Rogachenko coached the Lasers on Saturdays, and he is a world class sailor, teacher, and coach. I really learned a lot from him. Where else can you go to get a great training experience on a Saturday and then put that learning to use on Sunday at a regatta?
3) US Sailing is putting a big effort into preparing youth sailors for international competition and - later on- the Olympics. Can you tell me about the Olympic Development Program (ODP), the coaches, what a typical clinic is like, etc?
The Olympic Development Program is really great. I owe a lot to Coach Leandro Spina the director of the program. He has had a lot of confidence in me. All of the kids in the ODP have similar goals and are all working on solving some of the same problems like race strategy, starts, boat speed, and physical conditioning. We don't just learn from the coaches; everyone is good and everyone has something to contribute at a practice. One of my favorite coaches I've been exposed to is Anna Tunnicliffe. Anna won the Gold Medal at the Beijing Olympics in the Laser Radial. Anna is smart, supper fast on the water, and EXTREMELY FIT. I have learned a lot about personal fitness from the few time she took us to a cross fit gym for training.
4) Recently you've had an amazing opportunity to meet and chat with Tom Burton (the Australian GOLD Medalist in the Laser in Rio 2016). What advice did Tom share with you about his campaign and how do you plan to use that going forward? I did get to meet and sail with Mr. Burton last week. He was very generous with his time, and we had a great discussion about sailing. Mr. Burton is 5'11, so he is not the biggest guy in the fleet and neither am I. I asked him about what he did to compensate for being a little smaller than some of the other sailors. He told me HIKE HARD. We talked about the types of exercises he did to maximize his hiking effort. He told me that he did a combination of cycling and lifting in the gym. He also told me that he spends a lot of time on a hiking bench. Its hard, but he can focus on particular sets of muscles. Mr. Burton said that anyone can hike hard for 30 seconds or a minute off the line, but the winners can hike for entire legs and be 100% for extended periods of time. We also talked about learning from other more experienced sailors on the course. He told me some stories about his role models when he was 18 and starting to sail seriously.
We ended up talking for about two hours. He was extremely genuine and very very nice. He really deserved the gold medal.
5) You're a high school senior right now. What is your plan for college? Do you want to sail in college? Are you thinking about an Olympic Campaign after college?
I have applied to a number of really great schools, and I am waiting to hear back from most of them. I hope to make my final decision on a college in March or April. I am planning on studying engineering, and I am also looking forward to sailing in college. All of the colleges I applied to have really great sailing teams and coaches.
An Olympic Campaign would be cool, but that seems really far away right now. My dad tells me that it's all about the journey. If the journey is good the destination will be good. Right now I'm concentrating on the journey. If the journey brings me to an Olympic Campaign I will be ready when the opportunity presents itself.