Saskia Sills of Launceston admits she’s the one to beat at the upcoming ISAF World Youth Championships but the defending champion is eager to prove herself all over again.
A little under 12 months ago the Tavistock College student was sailing her way to gold in the RSX girl’s class final in Dublin.
Sills flew out of the traps, winning four of the first six races to open up a strong lead at the midway point, eventually winning the title by 12 points.
But the 16-year-old heads to Limassol, Cyprus, with the Royal Yachting Association in indifferent form – she recently won bronze at the RS:X Youth European Championships in Brest in what she claims was a frustrating event.
The world windsurfer title has only been defended four times since it was introduced in 1987, but Sills is determined to add her name to a list which includes Natasha Sturges, Amelie Lux, Zofia Klepacka and Laura Linares.
'I’ve just come back from the RS:X Youth Europeans in Brest where I won bronze, the same colour medal I won at the Europeans before last year’s worlds,' said Sills, who gets back in the boat on Monday.
'It was a frustrating event for me but I learned loads, and I’ve got to take those lessons into Cyprus with me.
'I learned I’m good enough to be at the front of the fleet, but when I wasn’t doing well I’d think I should be further up the field and then I’d take too many risks and end up doing even worse.
'Hopefully I’ve sorted that out and I have to keep an open mind that no regatta is over until you cross the line in the last race.
'I’ve never been the most consistent sailor but I’ve never been as inconsistent as I was last week so that’s really my goal for Cyprus, to get good early consistency and go from there.
'I keep trying to minimise the expectation on myself for this event, but it’s not easy to do that. I know I’ll be the one to beat and I’ve just got to go and race as well as I can.'
While Ben Ainslie was busy adding his fifth Olympic gold medal at London 2012, Sills was at EUROSAF Youth Sailing European Championships in Denmark – again claiming gold.
Her phenomenal performances last summer brought with them a nomination for the ISAF World Sailor of the Year.
Ainslie won the men’s award and even though China’s Lijia Xu pipped her to the women’s gong, Sills insists she still has to pinch herself when she considers how far she’s come.
'Last year was a crazy year for me personally and it was winning gold at the worlds which really kicked it all off and led to my nomination for the World Sailor of the Year,' she added.
'For me personally to be nominated alongside Ben Ainslie, and to get a nomination for the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year, was pretty cool. It all seemed a bit a weird; I kept thinking ‘I’m only 16!’
'But it was brilliant to see windsurfing getting so much attention and it’s definitely carried on into this year.'
Volvo Car UK is the title sponsor of RYA Volvo Team GBR, Britain’s sailing stars of the future and Official Car Partner to the British Sailing Team.
by Jamie Holt
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7:59 PM Fri 12 Jul 2013GMT
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