by Lindsey Bell
The 2012 RS:X Youth World Windsurfing Championships took place from 21st-27th October in Penghu, Chinese Taipei. The event resulted in dual celebrations for Britain’s young windsurfers with Kieran Martin and Saskia Sills both claiming podium honours.
Saskia Sills,GBR 956 - 2012 RS:X Youth World Windsurfing Championships
The pair earned two hard-fought silver medals for RYA Volvo Team GBR after six days of tough competition at Shili Beach, with the 16-year-old Sills also taking the Under 17 world title in addition to overall silver at the Under 19 event.
Launceston’s Sills sailed a solid series, posting either first or second places in seven of the 13 opening series races to head in the final 10-board medal race with a slender four point lead over Israel’s Neomi Cohen. But with the Israeli sailor winning the final double-points medal race and the British sailor coming in fourth, the second step on the podium went to Sills, who’s made a rapid impact in her first season in the Youth RS:X class.
She finished third overall in the RS:X Youth European Windsurfing Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, winning the Under 17 category, and quickly followed that up with victory at her first ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland and another gold at the EUROSAF Youth Europeans to earn her nomination alongside Olympic and Paralympic medallists for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards, the winners of which will be announced next Tuesday (6th November).
Saskia’s twin sister Imogen, also competing at the Youth Worlds event, finished seventh overall and picked up bronze in the Under 17 Championship.
Meanwhile in the boy’s event, Cheadle’s Kieran Martin sealed his silver with the help of a race win in the final medal race.
In bronze medal position going in to the final day and with a six point gap to make the leap onto the next step of the podium, the 17-year-old 2012 European silver medallist Martin did precisely what was required of him, pulling off medal race victory and seeing his French rival, Martin Olmeta finish in ninth to elevate the RYA Volvo Team GBR sailor into the silver medal spot.
The event victory went to Poland’s Pawel Tarnowski, who finished ahead of Martin by just one point. Joe Bennett also featured in the top ten spots for GBR, finishing eighth overall.
RYA Volvo Team GBR RS:X coach Oli Woodcock was pleased with his charges’ efforts. 'We’re really happy with how the event went – the guys all performed brilliantly, not only making the podium but also learning a huge amount from the week.
'It was building up to be a really high wind regatta, sort of 20-25 knots and gusting up to 50 at times in the days beforehand, which is apparently normal for this time of year! By the time the event came around it had settled down a bit and was much more of an all-round regatta in terms of the conditions.
'Saskia’s had an awesome first season in the RS:X,' Woodcock explained.
'She sailed really well this week, but just made a few too many mistakes this time to clinch the overall win. She’s a little bit gutted to have missed out on another gold here, but she’s really mature for her age and will learn from those mistakes and come back stronger next year. It’s a great result for Imi [Imogen] as well, who was sailing her first event as a full member of the RYA Volvo Team GBR RS:X Youth squad.
'Kieran’s had a bit of an up and down year so I’m really pleased for him that he’s been able to get a good result at these Worlds as well,' Woodcock continued. 'We did a lot of work after the ISAF Youth Worlds and the EUROSAF event, and he’d been racing really well in our pre-event training so we knew it was possible. All credit to Kieran, he was mature and relaxed and made sure he was in the top three on the days when we had light winds, and top 10 in the planing races to put himself in the best possible position.'
RSX Youth Worlds website