Excelling in the ILCA Sailing Class

Quite a year sailing in the ILCA (formerly Laser) class!

It's always inspiring and interesting to meet collegiate level sailors.  Here we profile St. Mary’s College sailor Leo Boucher, who has had an excellent year of competition in the ILCA (formerly Laser) class. Leo started sailing Optis at the age of nine out of the West River Sailing Club. He moved on to Optis at Severn Sailing Association (SSA) and at the age of 14 into the Radial and at 18 the full rig. He’s sailed both the 420 and ILCA at the college level, earned ICSA Honorable Mention twice and won the College Singlehanded Championship twice. 

sailing leo boucher
Leo Boucher. Photo by Lexi Pline

Top sailing accomplishments in 2022

I won the ILCA North American Championship (ILCA 7 fleet of 49) in Kingston, Ontario, ensuring a seat for the U.S. at the Pan American Games next summer. I also won all of the U.S. Open Sailing Series California events (San Diego and Long Beach) and placed third at both the Fort Lauderdale and Clearwater, FL, events. 

My performance at the ILCA World Championships in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, in May was underwhelming in my opinion—I’d had Covid the week before. I arrived two days before the event, with one day to set up my boat. I rounded the top mark in the top five once but got passed by everybody! I was the top American finisher. 

How has your sailing improved over the last year?

My fleet management is getting better. I am able to stay consistent and so know I can stay near the top of the fleet. 

What have your challenges been?

Covid was an unexpected challenge. Fitness, too. Being a smaller ILCA sailor, I have to be twice as fit as these other guys. You have to stay on top of it. One of the few things you can control in the sport of sailing is how fit you are. 

How do you stay fit for sailing?

You name it: lift weights, use the rowing machine and hiking bench (which I admit I don’t like), and do cardio. I work out with Harry Legum at Annapolis Sailing Fitness for high-intensity workouts. 

Who have been your sailing mentors? 

All the coaches I’ve had: Adam Werblow, Bill Ward, and Connor Blouin. Clay Johnson, owner of Colie Sails coached me in Optis and pushed me toward the Laser. 
Caleb Payne.

Do you do any coaching or sailing mentoring? 

During my gap year in fall of 2020 and spring of 2021 due to Covid, I coached high school sailors, and during the summers I coached the ILCA team at SSA. If I’m at a regatta, young sailors will come to ask me questions, and I’m always open to answering.

What are your top tips for young sailors?

Just enjoy it! Fitness is important—it’s an understated thing. No one knows how much work you have to put into it. You have to enjoy the struggle to enjoy the success. 

What are your future sailing plans?

ILCA Europeans in November in Hyeres, France. Also the two qualifiers in Florida over the winter in January and February are high stakes as they’re all or nothing and the qualifiers for the Pan Am Games and Olympic test event. 

What are your career goals? 

I plan to sail for two or three years after school. If I don’t make the Olympic games for 2024, I will reassess. I will probably take the GMAT for business school as I train.