Saskia Sills, 16 from Launceston was presented with the prestigious YJA Pantaenius Young Sailor of the Year Award for 2012 at the Tullett Prebon London International Boat Show on Saturday 12th January 2013. 

The award was presented by Bob Fisher, Chairman of the YJA.  

Saskia has made a huge impact in her first season in the Youth RS:X class. After winning the 2012 RYA Volvo Youth National Championships in April, she finished third overall in the RS:X Youth European Windsurfing Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, winning the Under 17 category. Saskia quickly followed that up with victory at 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 at the RS:X Youth Worlds in October. Saskia was recently nominated for ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards alongside Olympic and Paralympic medallists.   

The other finalists for the YJA Pantaenius Young Sailor of the Year were Lottie Harland, 16 from Reading: Lottie who has 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 Jelf, 12 from Maidstone: Ben at just 12 years old, has retained his two British titles in 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 (5-9 November), Ben knew he had his work cut out to beat the new World Record set in Sweden in October, 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