Young windsurfers ready to take on the world at Youth Olympics

IMAGE: RYA

Teenage sailing sensations Islay Watson and Finn Hawkins are ready to take on the world’s best young windsurfers ahead of racing at the Youth Olympic Games.

The rising stars will represent Great Britain at the Youth Olympics, taking place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 6-18 October with racing commencing on Sunday 7 October.

The pair will be among 42 British athletes aged between 14 and 18 who will compete in 17 sports over 12 days of action.

They will both race in the Techno 293 Plus windsurfing class having impressed selectors with a string of top results this season.

Watson, 17, from Aviemore in Scotland, claimed bronze at the class European Championships as well as winning the Youth World Championships in the RS:X class, while Hawkins, 15, from St Austell in Cornwall, was third at the Techno Youth World Championships.

Both will be looking to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Tom Daley, Jade Jones and Duncan Scott who all went on to win medals at an Olympic Games having first competed at a Youth Olympic Games.

“I’m excited to get started now,” said Watson. “I’ve done all the training and I’m feeling pretty ready. I’m not really sure what to expect but I am just excited to be representing Team GB at such a big event.”

“Everyone has their favourite conditions for racing,” added Watson, “but I am hoping for a mixed week with all conditions. Just got to wait and see what happens.”

Hawkins, one of the youngest athletes picked for Team GB, said:” It’s completely different to anything I’ve ever done before. It’s a mixed event so I am going to try and stay focussed and set my mind on my goals and keep going.”

Hawkins has only windsurfed for four years but has quickly developed into an accomplished racer.

“I’d love to go to the senior Olympic Games,” added Hawkins, “and the Youth Olympic Games is a great experience that you only get once in your life so I am going to take as much as I can from the experience and use it in later life.”

Watson and Hawkins are both products of the Royal Yachting Association’s British Youth Sailing programme, which aims to identify and develop the world’s best young racing sailors.

The pair will be supported at the Youth Olympics by British Youth Sailing coach Oli Woodcock, an experienced windsurfer with a proven track record for nurturing young athletes.

The 2018 Youth Olympics, which will feature almost 4,000 of the world’s most talented young athletes from 206 nations, is the third edition of the Games following Singapore 2010 and Nanjing 2014.

The Games will also make history through its commitment to gender equality by becoming the first Olympic event to host the same number of male and female athletes with 1,999 of each set to compete in Argentina.