YSOTY 2012 Winner


Windsurfer Saskia Sills’ expertise on a sailboard has earned her the title of Britain’s top Young Sailor of the Year, winning the prestigious YJA Pantaenius title for 2012.

She was named winner at the Tullett Prebon London International Boat Show today (Saturday, January 12) and presented with the magnificent YJA Pantaenius Young Sailor of the Year trophy by Bob Fisher, chairman of the Yachting Journalists’ Association.

Saskia, aged 16, from Launceston, Cornwall has made a huge impact in her first season in youth sections of the RS:X windsurfing class. She won the 2012 RYA Volvo Youth National Championships in April, and finished third overall in the Youth European windsurfing championships at Tallin, Estonia, winning the under 17 category.

She quickly followed that with a victory in her first ISAF Youth Sailing world championships in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland and another gold at the Eurosaf Youth Europeans. She also claimed the under 17 world title in addition to overall silver at the RS:X Youth Worlds in October. She also won nomination for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year awards alongside Olympic and Paralympic medallists.

To win the coveted Young Sailor of the Year honour she beat runners-up Lottie Harland, aged 16 from Reading and Ben Jelf, aged 12, from Maidstone.

Lottie who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome has overcome many social difficulties to give other young sailors the benefit of her knowledge and the confidence to get out on the water.

She helps out at her club and motivates others wherever she can. Lottie recently set up a junior committee and in the summer, she helps at the club’s Sailability sessions one evening each week assisting physically and mentally disabled people to try sailing. Lottie undertook the 41 mile Isle of Sheppey Round the Island Race in her Laser Radial to raise money for charity. As well as all this, she is a keen member of the RYA Volvo Laser Radial National Youth Squad and has attended eight competitive events this year including the European Laser Youth Radial Youth Championships in Belgium and the RYA Volvo Youth National Championships.

Ben at just 12 years old, has retained his two British titles in powerboating in the GT15 class, making this the third consecutive year he has held both the Junior Championship and Junior Sprint Championship’s.
He has also received international recognition of the highest level claiming both a UIM European Powerboat Championship Title in Estonia for the second consecutive year and securing silver against a fleet of over 20 other competitors at the UIM World GT15 Championships in Sweden.

At Coniston Records Week in November Ben had his work cut out to beat the new World Record set in Sweden a month earlier, but on just his third run he once again achieved the World and British speed record, boosting it to 44.33mph.

Saskia was amongst the 13 RYA Regional Young Sailor of the Year winners who are voted for by the RYA affiliated sailing clubs. These young sailors have made a significant impact on youth sailing, ranging from Gold medal achievements and overcoming adversity, to the huge amount of hard work and effort they give back to their clubs. Ben had been nominated direct to the YJA for his achievements.

Bob Fisher Chairman of the YJA presented the RYA Regional Winners with their trophies:

Thames Valley and London: Lottie Harland
Eastern: Peter Cullum
North East: Christina Coates
South East: Ruth Oliver
South West: Saskia Sills
Scotland: Lorenzo Chiavarini
North West: Greg Kelly
Northern Ireland: Robbie Gilmore
East Midlands: Sarah Gowler
Southern: Jack Arnell
Yorkshire and Humberside: Hector Simpson
West Midlands: Mya Kilpatrick-Wood
Wales: Ellie Meopham

In addition to nominations from members of the public for the YJA Pantaenius Young Sailor of the Year, over 1,700 RYA affiliated clubs have the opportunity to nominate. Plus, the RYA puts forward winners from each of its 13 regions as nominations for the YJA Pantaenius Young Sailor of the Year.

The nominees for the YJA Pantaenius Young Sailor of the Year receive a trophy and goodies provided by Yacht Parts Plymouth, Slam UK and a VIP day at the show for them and their families.