Sailing Brunswick’s Borcherding qualifies for Singlehanded Championships
As the results indicate, it’s smooth sailing for Leyton Borcherding in any boat he sails in.
A Brunswick School sophomore, Borcherding qualified to compete in the Interscholastic Sailing Association Singlehanded Nationals at Macatawa, Mich., Saturday and Sunday by placing second at the NESSA Singlehanded Championships in Rhode Island, recently.
Borcherding, who up until recently mainly raced in 420 doublehanded boats, made his mark at the NESSA Singlehanded Championships in Jamestown, R.I., placing second overall out of nine participants with 41 total points.
Eleven races were sailed over the two-day event earlier this month and Borcherding registered two first-place finishes, along with a pair of second and third-place finishes. He also placed fourth in three other races in the event.
“After the first day of competition I was third and the second day, the wind was super shifty and light,” Borcherding said. “All of the races were super competitive and close.”
Bocherding moved up to second place by winning one race and posting two second-place finishes on the final day of the NESSA Championships.
Chapman Petersen of Hotchkiss School was the winner (20 points), while schoolmate John Eastman was third (47 points).
Grace Austin, a Greenwich Academy junior, also performed well. Austin was fourth overall at the NESSA Championships, with 52 points. She placed third in three races.
“The first day it was pretty windy and I had a couple of good races,” Borcherding. “The final day I was getting bad starts off the line and I got too impatient with the wind. But I started getting into a groove and ended up having some good finishes.”
The regional NESSA Championships featured nine elite sailors.
“It was really fun and challenging,” Borcherding said. “With such a small fleet and small course, any mistake can put you from first to last.”
Competing in Laser Radial boats — a one-person, singlehanded boat — is pretty new for Borcherding. He has excelled in the doublehanded (two crew) 420 boats. Sailing with skipper Max Anker in the summer of 2017, Borcherding garnered a first-place finish in the 420 class at the U.S. Youth Sailing Championships in Corpus Christi, Texas.
The duo also placed third at the 2017 Open 420 European Championships in Athens, Greece. Now Borcherding is getting accustomed to sailing the laser radial boats and he’s certainly adjusted well.
“I mostly sailed 420s for a year and a half and had some good experiences, like winning the youth championships, which was a lot of fun,” he said. “With the lasers, I really like the fact I can skipper the boat and steer it. A lot of physicality is involved — your results depend on how fit you are.”
Inspired by his older sister’s participation in the sport, Borcherding began sailing as a nine-year-old at Belle Haven Club in Greenwich.
“At first, it was a fun summer-type thing, then I went to a few regattas and I loved the competition, racing and the atmosphere,” Borcherding said.
He enjoyed a successful season as a member of Brunswick’s sailing squad last spring.
“I love team racing,” he said. “It’s fun, because of the tactics and teamwork involved and the team atmosphere.”
The ISSA Singlehanded Nationals this weekend in Michigan includes 36 competitors, including Borcherding and GA’s Austin.
“I’m really excited, it’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to the competition,” Borcherding said. “I am still new to the boat (Laser), so I want to continue to learn as much as I can. It’s a much smaller boat than the 420, so your body movements really effect it.”
Sailing has taken Borcherding to places such as Europe, which also served as an education.
“Sailing with kids from Greece and Italy taught me so much about what it’s like over there and it was fun to see how they sailed,” Borcherding said. “I had a great time competing with them.”