Looks for gold in Laser Radials
If Beth Lygoe’s dream comes true, St. Lucia will be represented for the first time in the Laser Radial Class at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games and Lygoe will be at the helm.
A native of the UK, Lygoe started sailing with her father at the age of 11 and soon advanced to a single-handed dinghy called a Topper. It was in this class she began racing. Lygoe moved up to Laser Radials at age 17, competed in regattas throughout the UK and Europe, and raced in three Laser Radial Worlds from 1999 to 2001. Then, she discovered kite-surfing.
“I have been instructing kite-surfing and riding whenever the wind allows since 2001,” Lygoe explains. “I moved to St Lucia to live, teach kite-surfing and train, and fell in love with the island, the people and the amazing conditions on the water, which now allow me to train every day.”
Lygoe’s Olympic dream dates to her early days of sailing. However, the idea to actually campaign for a spot in the 2012 Summer Olympics took root two and a half years ago when she broke her leg in a kite-surfing accident.”
“I spent six weeks with my leg up, resting and recovering,” she explains. “I wanted to prove to myself that I could come back from this injury stronger than ever, so I set myself the challenge of a lifetime to try and qualify for London 2012. Once I got all the paperwork through for my Lucian citizenship, I started training harder than ever, using both laser sailing and kite-surfing to get stronger, faster and fitter.”
Last fall, in the run up to the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Perth, Australia, in December, Lygoe trained especially rigorously. She sailed out in Rodney Bay, where she could choose to train in flat water or go out into the channel in the waves and kite-surfed in Cas en Bas where she owns a kite school. Then she flew to Australia.
“During the Championships I hiked my guts out and put every bit of energy I could into the racing,” Lygoe explains. “Racing in the laser class is tough. A one-design class means that when you’re mid-fleet every mark rounding is a scrap with at least ten other boats!”
Lygoe ultimately finished in Perth 62nd out of 102 boats.
“The heart breaking fact was finishing as the 30th nation, when only the top 29 nations gained Olympic qualification,” she says. “Being so close to my dream and missing out by only one spot has proved to me that I can sail faster, so at present I am back home training harder than ever.”
Next up, Lygoe will head to the Laser Radial World Championships in Germany in May. She hopes to gain one of the last nine slots available for this summer’s Games.
What would it mean to her to actually sail in the Olympics?
“It would be a dream come true,” she says. “I have the full backing and support of the St Lucia Olympic Committee, who are helping me with funding and without whose help all of this would not be possible. When I compete abroad, I proudly fly St Lucia’s flag on my sail and feel honored to represent our island.”
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.