His goal was to achieve the Gold Fleet at the Perth 2011 International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Sailing World Championships, an Olympic qualifier held in Australia last fall. Instead, after three days of racing, the Virgin Islands’ Cy Thompson made only the Silver Fleet, but that didn’t mean he was out of the game in terms of gaining a slot into the 2012 Summer Olympics. With four races left on the last day, he buckled down and posted one top 20 and three top ten scores to finish 56th overall and successfully earn one of the 36 Olympic berths in the Laser class.
“My grandfather competed in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico in the Flying Dutchman, which is a two-man boat. Both of my parents competed in the 1984 Los Angeles Games in the windsurfer class. Sailing in the Olympics will be fulfilling a dream that I have had for many years. The Games are the pinnacle of dingy sailing and to represent my country is the greatest feeling,” says Thompson.
Born in 1988, the year fellow native Virgin Islander Peter Holmberg won the Virgin Islands’ first and only Olympic sailing medal, Thompson started skippering a small jury-rigged sailing dinghy at the age of four. He quickly advanced to the Optimist, where he won his first national title at age nine, then advanced to Lasers where he gained US and international titles during his high school years. More recently he sailed Lasers and 420s on the highly competitive college sailing scene.
At Roger Williams University (RWU), in Providence, Rhode Island, Thompson scored many personal and school firsts. He won the ICSA Men’s Singlehanded National Championships in 2008 after making his first Olympic bid in the 49er with fellow VI sailor Anthony Kotoun. The next year he was named RWU’s Male Athlete of the Year, and in 2011 helped the Hawks claim the 2011 ICSA Team Racing National Championship. Thompson ended his college career by being named NEISA Sailor of the Year and as the only three-time ICSA All-American athlete in RWU’s sailing history. Since graduation, Thompson has campaigned full-time for the Olympics.
Why the Laser?
“I have grown up sailing the Laser and Laser Radial,” says Thompson. “It is the boat that I have had the most success in. I have the right body type for the Laser. I love the physical aspect involved and it being the most economically friendly Olympic class sailboat made for a great fit.”
Upcoming, Thompson will sail in the Laser World Championships, in Boltenhagen, Germany, May 4th -10th. Then, he will travel to Medemblik in the Netherlands for the Delta Lloyd Regatta, a World Cup event, and finally on to the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta in Weymouth, England, where afterwards he will train until the Olympics open in the same venue on July 16th.
What would Thompson recommend for someone who’d like to follow in his wake?
“I would definitely recommend finishing college first before starting a campaign, because once you get on the professional circuit you may not want to go back to school. And, whatever you end up doing, just make sure that you put your best foot forward. Never leave anything on the table and remember that you are not only representing yourself, but more importantly your country. Everyone pays attention, so make a good name for your self!”
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.