I guess it can be said that I was born to be a sailor. My grandfather, Rudy Thompson, sailed into the St Thomas Harbor in 1950. He and my Dad were among the top sailors in the Virgin Islands, and for many years my Mom raced with them. They were all stalwarts of the St. Thomas Yacht Club and well known throughout the Caribbean. And so when I came into the picture on July 1, 1988 it was an unstated assumption that I, too, would take to the water at a young age. I did, I loved it then — and I love it now.
By the age of five, I was actively sailing my Optimist in the cool trades off the St. Thomas Yacht Club. At nine, I would go on to win the White Fleet and finish 12th overall at the US Optimist Nationals in Gulfport, Mississippi. I was part of a group of young and upcoming sailors racing for the US Virgin Islands who were taught and trained to believe there was no race we couldn’t compete in and — if we did our best — win. For the next five years I am happy to report I won a lot of Opti races.
After my 14th birthday I moved up to the Laser Radial class. I liked the boat and it seemed to like me. In 2005 I won the US Sailing Youth Championship and then went on to a 6th place finish at the Volvo Youth Worlds in South Korea. Perhaps my proudest moment came the next year when, in 2006, I won the Gold Medal in the Laser Class at the 2006 Caribbean & Central American Games in Colombia. This was the only Gold Medal won by the US Virgin Islands at these Games.
Beginning in my sophomore year in high school, I sailed on the Antilles School Sailing Team. We were building the team and in my Senior Year we won both the Fleet and Team Racing National Championship titles. Antilles’ sailors are heavily recruited for college sailing teams and I was happy to have the chance to keep sailing at that next level. I chose to attend Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island. It was what my college counselor would call “a good fit.” I just graduated this past May, with a major in Communications and a minor in Marketing. I am pleased that my sailing career at RWU was marked by many firsts for me, my Team and the school: first Single-handed National Champion, first Team Racing National Champion, first Male Athlete of the Year in Sailing (twice), first All-American (3 times), first NEISA Sailor of the Year, and first ICSA College Sailor of the Year finalist.
My dream, after graduating from college was to keep training and racing in the Laser with the goal of qualifying as a member of the US Virgin Islands Olympic Team for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The Laser is a single-handed racing dinghy, an Olympic class boat that rewards athleticism, subtle steering and trimming techniques, as well as tactical excellence. This is the boat I had raced for the last eight years. In January 2011 I had competed in the qualifying event set by the US Virgin Islands and, as the top USVI finisher, was selected to represent the Virgin Islands at the Pan American Games to be held in Mexico in October. But, even though I was the only Virgin Islands entrant, to qualify for the Olympic Games would be a new and even more demanding challenge that would require me to race against the top sailors from many other countries seeking to qualify for the Olympics. For seven months I trained hard and raced in the USA, Canada, England, Finland, Mexico and Australia.
The first of the Olympic qualifying regattas (of which there are only two) was held in Perth, Australia from December 2-18, 2011. Seventy-five percent of the countries that will be competing in London in 2012 qualified for a berth at the regatta in Perth. My goal was to qualify in Perth. I surrounded myself with a good training partner, a good sailing coach and an enthusiastic support group that helped me with my fundraising efforts. I was able to focus all my energy towards this first Olympic qualifier and I succeeded. I qualified in the first round and at the hardest of event, the ISAF World Championships !!!
In the past several months, my family, friends and generous donors have helped me with enough funding to carry me through the ISAF Worlds in Perth and their efforts and mine have paid off. I am now entering the next phase of my campaign that will include seven World Cup events between January and June 2012 and finally the Olympic Games in August 2012. Our personal funds are not enough to cover it all and I need the financial help of others. I receive some welcome support on an on-going basis as a selected athlete from the International Olympic Committee, paid through the Virgin Islands Olympic Committee. However, I need to cast a much wider net in hopes of garnering support for my Olympic quest. I believe I can race and race well at the Olympic level. I know I will give my best effort every day in training for that chance.
The budget I have included with this letter shows what is truly needed if I am to have the best possible preparation and the best chance at a medal. Also included is how to donate to my campaign.
I am hoping you will join me in charting my course for the 2012 Olympics.