by Matt Carter
At the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships, Great Britain is toasting triple success after claiming their second world title, a bronze medal and the prestigious Nations Trophy in Dublin Bay, Ireland. A sensational series from RYA Volvo Youth National champion Saskia Sills saw the 15-year-old crowned ISAF Youth Sailing World girls’ RS:X champion, with the windsurfer holding her nerve to seal a remarkable victory on her ISAF Youth Worlds debut.
Annabel Vose and Kirstie Erwin (420)
With two golds in the bag for RYA Volvo Team GBR following the SL16 world title won by Rupert White and Tom Britz yesterday, Annabel Vose and Kirstie Urwin retained their overnight position in what was a tense final 420 race to secure the bronze medal and complete the GBR medal haul.
The all-round success of the British sailors in Ireland throughout the week, which saw Rupert and Tom clinch catamaran gold medal in emphatic style yesterday, has also led to them clinching the Nations Trophy for the top performing nation at the Championships. With standings calculated based on a nation’s top four crews after each race is completed across all the fleets, Britain finished 13 points ahead of the current holders France who have won the team award three times in the last five years. Britain last won the trophy back in 2008 in Aarhus, Denmark, with this being the fourth time in the trophy’s history.
Saskia Sills led the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships from the word go in Dublin Bay, posting two race wins on the opening day of the regatta to cement her position at the top of the leaderboard. This fine form continued across the six day series with Sills becoming a run-away leader in the RS:X female fleet. The 15-year-old could have easily secured the gold medal yesterday with a race to spare if she had finished inside the top 13, however Sills was made to wait to wrap up the world title on the final day of the regatta.
'I can’t quite believe it! It’s such a shock but such a great feeling, I’m over the moon,' enthused Sills. 'My aim entering the regatta was to try and finish within the top 10 and to gain as much experience as possible as it’s my first Youth Worlds and only my third proper event on the RS:X board. I don’t think it’s hit me yet as to how big this event actually is and what it means to medal here, I’m sure it soon will though and I can’t wait for tonight!'
Sills, who won the U17 class RS:X European title earlier this month, went into today’s only race with a guaranteed silver medal in the bag and needed to finish within the top 13 to secure the world title. Following a 15th in her penultimate race yesterday (Thursday 19 July), the pressure could have easily mounted on the youngest member of RYA Volvo Team GBR.
Saskia Sills victory - ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships 2012
'At the beginning of the week I started off really well but as the week went on it got very tough. Yesterday I had a bit of a shocker in the final race and made it a lot harder for myself - I couldn’t sleep last night which I’m sure was down to nerves. Everyone was congratulating me this morning before the race had even started which was a bit strange as I still had a job to do.
'I was so pleased when I crossed the finished line, it was a very stressful race,' said Sills. 'At one point I was going round the top mark in 13th with the people behind right on my tail which was when I soon realised I needed to pull my finger out. When I returned to the shore it was a great feeling. I’m now looking forward to the closing ceremony and celebrating the Nations Trophy with the rest of RYA Volvo Team GBR,' said Sills.
420 World Champion Annabel Vose, and her crew Kirstie Urwin, started the regatta off with a bang leading the 420 fleet at the half way point of the Championships. However with a run of top ten results towards the business end of the regatta, the pair went into today’s final race jostling for third with the boat from Chile.
'It was very tense with very light winds and some big shifts. We knew we had to beat Chile or come no more than two places behind them and at the first windward mark they were in third and we were back in 15th which wasn’t a great position to be in. We fought hard to climb back up on the second beat to find ourselves one place behind the boat from Chile which meant we crossed the line winning the bronze medal,' said Urwin.
Vose added: 'We are very happy, it feels like all our hard work has paid off. We started off the event with very little expectations and would have been happy to finish in the top 10, so to win the bronze medal is fantastic! We started off today wanting to win that bronze medal, everyone hates finishing fourth – it’s just the worst place to come! We are also very happy about winning the Nations Cup. It’s just so nice to see everyone happy including the coaches.'
Meanwhile, three further members of RYA Volvo Team GBR, all ISAF Youth Worlds debutants, finished in the top 10 of their respective classes. Ellie Meopham battled hard all week to just miss out on the Laser Radial podium position in the female fleet. The Welsh sailor’s fourth place finish is GBR’s best result since 2005 when Alison Young, London 2012 Team GB Laser Radial sailor, finished third in Busan, Korea.
Ben Batten and Tim Gratton finished a very respectable seventh in a competitive 29er class, while Kieran Martin had a disappointing regatta by his standards posting two BFD and an OCS to finish in ninth.
420 sailors Charlie Cox and Craig Dibb rounded off their regatta in 14th while Michael Beckett finished 20th in his first Youth Worlds in the Laser Radial boys class.
Duncan Truswell, RYA Youth Racing Manager and Laser Radial coach/Team Leader for RYA Volvo Team GBR, commented: 'It has been a great week for RYA Volvo Team GBR in some really challenging conditions. To come away with two gold medals, one bronze, the Nations Trophy, and so many of the team in contention and clearly on the pace, is a great testament to the strength of our programmes and the hard work and commitment of the coaches, sailors and parents. The whole team have pulled together really well, been great fun, and great to work with afloat and ashore and we are very proud of their efforts and achievements.
'My thanks go to Oli Woodcock, and Neil Marsden for doing a great job with the guys this week, and all the coaches and support staff who have contributed to the sailors journey so far. We have had a lot of support this week from folk at home as well as our sponsors Volvo Car UK and Henri Lloyd and I am really delighted to be able to deliver for them as well as for UK Sport on the eve of such a fantastic summer for British Sport. We had a really great video good luck message from some of the athletes representing Team GB and that gave the team a real boost at the beginning of the week.'
'It has been a great week of sailing and our thanks go to the organisers, the event has been supremely well organised in some tough conditions and the hospitality of the Irish has been excellent as ever, we look forward to a great celebration tonight and hearing the anthem ring out.,' concluded Truswell.
To add to the success of the RYA Volvo Youth Racing programme, Vikki Payne and Stephanie Orton have also clinched a youth bronze medal in the female class at the 29er European Championships in Sopot, Poland.
Final RYA Volvo Team GBR results:
420 Boys: Craig Dibb (Warsash SC)/Charlie Cox (Royal Lymington Yacht Club) – 14th
420 Girls: Annabel Vose (Royal Lymington Yacht Club)/Kirstie Urwin (Royal Lymington Yacht Club) – Third
29er: Ben Batten (Lymington Town Sailing Club)/Tim Gratton (Hayling Island Sailing Club) – Seventh
RS:X Boys: Kieran Martin (Carsington) – Ninth
RS:X Girls: Saskia Sills (Launceston) – First
Laser Radial Boys: Michael Beckett (Solva Sailing Club) – 20th
Laser Radial Girls: Ellie Meopham (Fishguard Bay Sailing Club) – Fourth
SL16 Catamaran: Rupert White (Brightlingsea Sailing Club)/Tom Britz (Royal Lymington Yacht Club) – First
Nations Trophy Results:
1) Great Britain – 328 points
2) France – 315 points
3) Italy – 297 points
4) Spain – 247 points
5) Australia – 236 points
ISAF Youth Worlds website