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Team GB's Emma Wilson vows to go one better after World Championship silver

by British Sailing Team 5 Feb 11:45 GMT 29 January - 3 February 2024

Emma Wilson won silver in a dramatic climax to the iQFOiL World Championships in Lanzarote - and vowed to go one better at this summer's Olympics.

The Christchurch native enjoyed a stunning week of racing, winning 15 of 20 qualifying races in a statement performance.

The unique nature of the Final Series in the iQFOiL, the new Olympic windsurfing class, sees qualifying scores wiped as the top ten athletes are pitched into winner-takes-all knockout racing.

Wilson's feats earned her direct passage to the grand final, but she was handed a five-second penalty after the on-water judges said she started the race early.

Despite the setback Wilson excercised her incredible pace and overhauled Israel's Katy Spychakov, but narrowly missed out on overtaking race leader Sharon Kantor.

After dominating the regatta Wilson had to settle for second place, highlighting the jepoardy - and cruelness - of the iQFOiL class finals.

This is Wilson's second World Championship medal after bronze in the Hague last year, a performance that qualified Team GB a quota place in the class, which the 24-year-old will take up in Marseille.

"Obviously I'm disappointed after the week I had, but I gave it everything in the final race," said Wilson, pictured above with coach Sam Ross. "To nearly come back from a five-second delay is pretty good, and hopefully I can do better next time.

"My speed this week has been incredible, and I won 15 races out of 20. I know I can do it. I'm not sure this format is the fairest thing, but it is what it is, and for the Olympics I'll come back and go one better.

"I'm in a pretty good position, I've shown that this week, and I'm really hungry to win. I wouldn't want to be anyone racing me."

There were four other British representatives in the women's field, led by British Sailing Team's Islay Watson in 20th place.

Squad members Alice Read, Jennie Roberts and Lucy Kenyon finished 33rd, 51st and 58th respectively.

Read said: "It was amazing. I'm soaking up every experience as much as I can. The World Championships is the pinnacle in this class, I was happy and grateful to be in the gold fleet and seeing and learning off the girls in the front.

"Something I've always admired is the work rate of those top girls and how much they really push in every race. Every race I was racing like the last one, so that's the thing I've taken from Emma in particular. They push so hard and that's what I'm trying to do."

On the men's side, there was a stellar showing from under-21 world champion Finn Hawkins.

The Cornish star finished in 12th, a career best position that saw him narrowly miss out on the Final Series.

Hawkins hopes to harness this confidence from this performance ahead of the LA 2028 Olympic cycle, saying, "I had some really good results and proved to myself I can race at the very front of a fleet in world championships but I still have a little way to go in building consistency and not getting the bad results as well.

"It's an improvement from the past world championships and this was always going to be the hardest one of the past four years. I was gutted to miss out on the medal race but I was still happy with where I placed. I feel like I am improving and so overall I am happy."

Sam Sills, who has been selected by Team GB in the iQFOiL class, found the going tough and finished 34th.

Sills' place at the Games is secure, meaning he did not peak for an event that acts as a do-or-die Olympic qualifier for the majority of competing nations.

"It was really tough and I'm pretty disappointed," said Sills. "I know I've not peaked for this event and that it would be difficult but I hoped I would do a bit better than that.

"It has been an amazing Championships all around and a lot of the guys are at their peak as this is the Olympic trials for many nations.

"The finals were really intense and it was stressful to watch some of my mates trying to qualify for the Olympics.

"I wasn't expecting much personally, the margins are really small in this event and I struggled to get on the right side of them. I have to remember that every day between now and the Olympics is just to learn and that's the only thing that matters."

GB were well represented on the men's side, too, with Matt Barton coming 32nd, Andy Brown 35th, Duncan Monaghan 58th, Max Beaman 67th, Charlie Dixon 76th and Boris Shaw 82nd.

Full results of the regatta are here.

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