Martha’s Vineyard sixth-grader competes in world sailing championships

Landon Cormie rounds a buoy during practice in Quiberon, France. - Bernadette Cormie

Globetrotting 12-year-old Landon Cormie of Tisbury returned to the Vineyard on Sunday from Saint Pierre Quiberon on the coast of France, where he sailed in the 2016 Open Bic World championships. Along with four other young Americans from Hawaii, he competed with sailors from all over the world to show mastery of the speedy 9-foot boats that give the championship its name. Last week was the biggest showing since the event started 10 years ago, with 205 competitors from 15 different countries joining individual and team races.

Landon, who stayed with a host family in France, finished 38th overall as a solo racer, and took the bronze with his companions on the International Presidential Team. “It was pretty fun,” he told The Times. “I met a lot of cool people. I’m still begging my parents to go to Adelaide, Australia, for the Open Bic Nationals there. I met a lot of friends in France that are from Australia, and they wanted to meet up with me.”

Landon’s parents, Bernadette and Leigh Cormie, are well-known in the community. Leigh is a terminal manager for the Steamship Authority, and Bernadette, a private caterer, also supervises the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School cafeteria. They have been organizing his far-flung sailing trips for a while. 

“I started sailing when I was 5,” Landon said.

He’s a veteran of the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club, and sailed his first internationally competitive race when he was 8: the 2012 the Open Bic Worlds in Miami. Since then, he’s sailed all over the place: Florida, Texas, California, and Australia, in addition to his recent stint in France.

“I was tiny when I started,” Landon said. He is still smaller than many of his competitors, which he admits can be an advantage “in light winds.” 

Asked to describe his love of the sport, he said, “It’s just so much fun, I can’t describe it.” His mother prodded: “If you were to pick two words to describe sailing, what would they be?”

“Awesome,” Landon replied. “And fun.”

Part of his motivation is the community of other young sailors that he meets on his travels. “When he was in France,” Bernadette said, “he was sailing with kids he sailed with in Australia, with kids he sailed with in the States. His coach was his coach from Hawaii, and the kids he had sailed with in Miami and Charleston. You get to know kids and you meet up with them in all these different areas, and it’s interesting because you go to any regatta and he knows a ton of people already.”

To get to the Open Bic Worlds in France, he had to compete in the North American Nationals in Charleston, which he did in April, turning back to the East Coast on a dime after team trials in San Francisco.

“We met up with him in San Francisco for team trials,” Bernadette said, and “when he finished up in San Francisco, he took a redeye to Charleston so that he could compete in the North Americans, because if he didn’t compete in the North Americans, he couldn’t go to France.”

Landon is busy sailing year-round, and when he’s not traveling, he’s practicing on weekends with a sailing team in Connecticut. In between all the wind and the waves, he still manages to have time to be an honor-roll student at the Tisbury School.

Coming up for the young sailor: races in New England, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Florida, and possibly Washington State, and in March he’ll go to the 2017 North Americans in Sarasota. In between, he’ll keep practicing.