Launceston windsurfer Imogen follows in twin sister's footsteps
Launceston windsurfer Imogen Sills has been crowned European Champion after a windless final day of the 2013 EUROSAF Youth Sailing European Championships in Tavira, Portugal.
The RYA RS:X UK Youth Squad sailor emulated the success of her twin sister Saskia Sills at the 2012 event in Aarhus, Denmark last year by dominating proceedings from start to finish.
The 17-year-old opened her European account with a bang taking nothing but races wins from the first two days of competition to cement her position at the top of the leaderboard from the outset.
Continuing her fine form, the Tavistock College school student entered the final day of racing on Friday with eight race wins under her belt from the 12 race series and an eight point cushion over her nearest rival Maelle Guilbaud from France.
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However, with as little as one knot of wind at the designated start time and the breeze not materialising throughout the day, the race committee had no option but to cancel racing with the final standings being those at the end of the 12 fleet races.
“I’m really happy with winning the European title and my performance across the week of racing.
"It’s the first event I have ever won when competing at an international regatta so I’m just really pleased,” expressed the Roadford Lake Sailing Club member.
“I knew going into the regatta that I was well placed but that there were three or four other girls who finished inside the top ten at the class Europeans last month so I knew it was going to be a tough regatta.
"I never thought to myself that it was going to be easy as some of the girls who were there are the top two and three from each of their countries.
"It’s a nice event to win and back in April this is the one event I wanted to work towards so it’s a great feeling to actually achieve what I set out to do.”
Securing six out of six race wins on the opening two days and a further two race wins across the 12 race series, Sills described the conditions to be like ‘clockwork’ which made the racing at the Portuguese venue more enjoyable and a lot easier to read.
“The conditions across the week were really good and pretty much like clockwork to be honest.
"Most days would start off with a Northerly in the morning and by the time we were out racing by 1300 it would switch to a South-Westerly and build to a nice 10-12 knots sea breeze most days.
"There was a lot of tide to contend with as we were racing in the Atlantic which meant it was very tactical and all about who could get out to the right the quickest which I really enjoyed.”
The EUROSAF regatta is the only event in the Youth Racing calendar which holds a stadium-style medal race which would have been Sills’ first taste of a final double points race, which she admitted to being a little disappointed from missing out on.
“I was really looking forward and excited to race in the final double points medal race on Friday. I have never raced in one before and it would have been a great experience for me, although I’m not complaining as it took the pressure off and gave me the European title.
"The French girl was eight points behind me and the Spanish girl was six points behind her so I wasn’t too sure what their tactics would have been so in the end I was just happy with the overall win.”
With the 2014 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships also taking place in Tavira, Portugal next summer, Sills confessed that a chance to come back to the same venue and compete for the ISAF Youth Worlds title, one which her twin sister Saskia won in 2012, would be a dream come true.
“It would be amazing to be given the opportunity to come back to Portugal next summer to represent RYA Volvo Team GBR at the ISAF Youth Worlds.
"I would absolutely love it, I love Portugal, I loved where we were racing and where we were staying and it’s just a really nice place with perfect sailing conditions – but we will see how it goes and how well my training goes over the winter.
"Next up for me are the RS:X class worlds in October which is my main focus at the moment.”