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Australian Youth Nationals 2013 - Tessa Lloyd overcoming great odds

by Peter Campbell on 11 Jan 2013
Tess and Eliza powering to windward in their 29er at the Australian youth championships © Andrea Francolini Photography http://www.afrancolini.com/
The Australian Youth Sailing Championship saw the fall and rise of Victorian skiff sailor Tessa Lloyd, who finished fifth overall in the 29er Skiff after suffering a life-threatening accident while competing in last year’s Youth Nationals in Brisbane.

A year ago yesterday teenage Victorian skiff sailor Tess Lloyd suffered a life-threatening accident on the water while competing in the Australian youth sailing championship in Brisbane.

She suffered severe head injuries when her 29er skiff collided with a sailboarder during the championships. Doctors put her into an induced coma for 14 days to save her life.

Yesterday, the anniversary of that terrible accident, Tess again raced her 29er skiff with her new crew, Eliza Solly, in the final day of racing at the OAMPS youth sailing championships.

Amazingly, Tess ended as the leading girl skipper and fifth overall in the fleet of 26 mainly boy crews, finishing the regatta with a second place in the last race.

The 17 year old from Melbourne says she still cannot believe that she is back doing what she loves most, just 11 months after she emerged from a coma that doctors induced to treat her fractured skull.

In the collision, Tess was knocked unconscious and her crew, Lewis Duncan held her head above water until help arrived, saving her life.

Tess says the last thing she can remember was talking to her mother before that race. While her memory slowly improved during her five weeks in hospital, she had to learn to walk again and is still seeing speech specialist as part of her rehabilitation.



'I consider myself lucky every day now,' she told News Limited as she prepared to compete in Sail Sydney last month. She is now in Hobart, among 217 teenage sailors contesting five classes of dinghies and sailboards and going into today’s final races has moved up to be fifth overall after two fourths and an eighth placing yesterday.

'Everything is still a lot slower,' Tess said in Hobart. Things are processed slower, but I’m working really hard on it. Every day things are getting a little better.'

What has become obvious on the River Derwent this week is that she has lost none of her sailing skills in the high performance 29-er skiff, the ‘little sister’ of the Olympic 49er skiff.

Tess is serious about sailing in the Olympics – she has already ordered a 49er FX skiff, the new class to be raced by women at the Rio Olympics.

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