by Matt Carter
On the final day of racing for the 2013 RS:X Youth European Windsurfing Championships, Britain’s up and coming windsurfing talents have claimed further podium glory for the RYA UK Youth in Brest, France.
Noelle Finch in action in the RS:X windsurfing class
Noelle Finch sealed the silver medal for Great Britain while 2012 ISAF Youth Worlds gold medallist Saskia Sills took the bronze medal on the final day of racing in France, adding to the silver medal RYA UK Youth Squad sailors James Henson and Olivier Greber won last week (Friday 5 July) at the SL16 World Championships.
Finch, 18 from Clevedon, North Somerset, who won the U17 RS:X World and European title in 2011, entered Sunday’s three final medal races deciders only one point off Israel’s Hadar Heller, while Saskia Sills and her twin sister Imogen were also one point apart as they battled for the bronze medal position.
Posting a second and third in the opening two races of the day, Finch was poised in the gold medal position heading into the final race of the regatta, however a ninth for the RYA UK Youth Squad sailor and a race win for Heller (ISR) meant the 18-year-old from Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club finished eight points behind the Israeli to take the silver medal.
Two race wins in Sunday’s opening races of the day were more than enough to seal the bronze medal for Sills ahead of her twin sister Imogen. The 2012 ISAF Youth Worlds Gold medallist from Launceston, Cornwall, opened her European account with a bang posting two bullets on the opening day. Sills went onto score a further three race wins from the 14 race regatta, however admitted to finding the conditions some of the most challenging she had ever raced in, leading to a few big scores across the five days of racing.
Saskia Sills in action in the RS:X windsurfing class - 2013 RS:X European Championships
'I guess I’m happy with the bronze medal, it’s a medal after all so I should always be happy when I win a medal. It was a bit disappointing that I didn’t improve upon my result from last year’s Europeans where I also finished third, and obviously people around me in the fleet have improved but it was a really hard week – some of the hardest conditions I have competed in I would say,' explained Sills.
'I won the most amount of races which is a good sign I guess but I just had absolute shockers in-between - it was just a very challenging week. One race we had around six knots which then increased to 15 knots and once you were at the back of the fleet it was just impossible to gain any places which is quite weird. I just couldn’t seem to get myself up the fleet which made it a really difficult regatta.'
The 2012 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year and 2012 BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year Award nominee will now head to Cyprus with her fellow RYA Volvo Team GBR teammates in the hunt to defend her RS:X Youth Worlds title and the Nations Trophy which the GBR team won in Dublin Bay, Ireland at the 2012 event, with Sills acknowledging that this regatta was only a process regatta in preparation for the Youth Worlds.
'Like last year, the Europeans were a complete learning regatta for the ISAF Youth Worlds which is why I’m not too disappointed with a third at this event. I didn’t come to this event to win a medal, it was just frustrating at times with the conditions, but I came here with three goals which I concentrated on all week, goals which I thought would make the biggest difference at the Youth Worlds. I got my head back into the racing environment and I’m really happy with the outcome goals of this regatta.'
Sills continued: 'Ending the regatta with two bullets is also a positive and a good way to end the week of racing. It shows that I’m fast and am able to beat people when I need to which is a great confident boost for the next week’s Youth Worlds in Cyprus.'
Kieran Martin, who will also be heading to Cyprus this week to represent RYA Volvo Team GBR, finished his Youth European Championships in sixth.
Duncan Truswell, RYA Youth Racing Manager, commented: 'Once again our young windsurfers have delivered some great individual performances at a challenging regatta. Of particular mention is the performance of the girls who dominated the top five and I am particularly pleased that their hard work and commitment has paid off, I know each of them have made a lot of sacrifices for their sport and it’s great to see that rewarded with results and the scores so close between the three of them.
'In both the boys and the girls fleets there were a lot of non-Europeans competing which is great to see and gives them a great benchmark for the sailors going to the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships and the Class Youth Worlds later in the year. I know both Kieran and Saskia were using the event to get a look at the opposition and get into the groove after their exams so I look forward to working with them out in Cyprus.'
For more information on the 2013 RS:X European Championships and for full results visit the event website.
For details regarding the RYA Youth Racing programme or for further details on future regattas, please visit the RYA Website.