Achieving Success at the Leiter

US Sailing Feature Story, by Ariana Smaldone

The endeavor of challenging yourself to go beyond your comfort zone can further develop your sailing skills, leading to greater results from both a competitive perspective and your mindset. Registering for a new regatta, sailing in a new fleet and traveling to a new venue are all unique elements that push you outside your comfort zone but will ultimately help you to achieve success! You have the opportunity to achieve success too at the Richmond Yacht Club from July 8-13 by joining the Laser Radial or Laser 4.7 fleet at the U.S. Junior Women’s Singlehanded Championship for the Leiter Trophy.

A few past participants of the U.S. Junior Women’s Singlehanded Championship, commonly known as “the Leiter,” recalled how they achieved success at the event, which is comprised of a clinic and regatta, and how much fun they had participating in the championship experience. Read below to learn about their tips:


How did you achieve success at the Leiter Championship?

“I returned every year, learning not only from the coaches but the other talented sailors at the event. My first Leiter experience could have been extremely discouraging (and it almost was), but I realized how much I had learned and improved in just one week and was immediately sold on continuing to try. Each year, I got exponentially better, going from nearly finishing last in my first Leiter, to winning my last Leiter”, shared Dana Rohde, a 2018 graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy and top women’s skipper on the team.

Grace Austin, who finished second at the 2017 and 2018 Leiter noted, “I measure success not based on what I took away from a specific regatta. Thinking about success in these terms, I would say that the Leiter was the most successful regatta that I ever did. Each time I attended the Leiter, I have always returned as a better sailor. My personal success is two-fold and is due to both the coaches and the other sailors. The coaches at the event focus on each sailor’s strengths and weaknesses individually which made the coaching impactful. Lastly, the coaches were not the only source of learning for me; the girls at the Leiter constantly push each other to their best ability, and the competitive, fun spirit of the regatta brought the best in me.”

“Listening and taking advantage of the top-level coaches provided. The coaches have so much knowledge and are specifically there for you!” Hannah Steadman, a Brown University sailor recommended, “Learning from fellow competitors is also key.”

“I achieved success from the coaches by showing how quickly I could grasp the new concepts taught. Coaches love coachability, and this skill helped me to succeed in college sailing as well,” Janel DeCurtis former women’s skipper on the Roger Williams University team mentioned.

“Reaching out and asking questions from the coaches helped me to achieve success. You are around so many people that want to get better so not holding back from participating on and off the water made a difference,” Sophia Reineke recalled. Sophia won the Leiter in 2014 and now sails for Boston College.

Talia Toland, a Tufts University sailor and winner of the 2016 Leiter regatta achieved success by, “Focusing and having fun. It is important to laugh in between every race and when you are surrounded by some great friends, it is easier to make that happen.”

“I always had a great experience with my host families and walked away from every event with a new family friend. Sailing in new locations is the only want to get better and is always so much fun to learn a new venue! The activities were also fun and still are some of my fondest memories; learning to surf, rock climbing, and a Chicago dinner cruise. Truly so much fun!” Dana Rohde, on staying with a host family during the event.


We hope that you will attend the Leiter and achieve success just as the past participants did! Register now to join us at the Leiter from July 8-13 at Richmond Yacht Club in Richmond, California. In addition to the Laser Radial fleet, Laser 4.7s can now join in on the fun at the regatta!