Teenage race ace Matilda Nicholls proved why she’s been earmarked as ‘one to watch’ as she sailed to victory at the Laser Radial Youth World Championships.
Nicholls was crowned world champion yesterday after a week of intense action on the waters of Kingston on the shores of Canada’s Lake Ontario.
The 17-year-old from Durley, Southampton, won by 13 points over Australia’s Paige Caldecoat, with Ireland’s Eve McMahon coming home third some 28 points behind.
The result is the latest in a run of victories for Nicholls, who will now join the British Sailing Team and compete against the world’s best Olympic athletes.
In April she scooped the national youth title in the Laser Radial, while in June she won the ‘Most Potential’ category at the 2019 Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme Star Awards.
Last month she represented the British Youth Sailing Team at the Youth World Championships for the second time, finishing fifth.
“It’s been a crazy few months and it’s a pretty amazing feeling to be the world champion,” said Nicholls (pictured top right with coaches Sarah McGovern and Alan Williams).
“For me this shows how my hard work training on and off the water has paid off and motivates me to go for it even more over the next year.
“The lead-up to this event has been tough with A Levels only a month and a bit ago, and then straight into the Europeans and then Youth Worlds.
“But actually, those events and the mistakes I made there meant I had so much to learn from and apply here in Canada.
“The pressure was definitely on for this event but I managed to keep a fairly level head most of the time and just getting the simple things right I think allowed me to have a successful week - bar a few capsizes!
“I’m heading home now for a few weeks for the first time in ages and can’t wait to be with my whole family. Then next I’ll have my first go at the Under 21 events and during my year off I can’t wait to jump into the senior fleet as much as possible.”
Nicholls wasn’t the only Brit to enjoy a moment on the podium.
Finley Dickinson, 16, from Hayling Island, Hants, (above left with Nicholls) finished tenth overall, earning him the runner-up spot in the under 17 boys’ category.
Dickinson said: "This results means a lot to me, especially after the Europeans which was not the best of my events. The second place finish has also inspired me even more to train harder so that next year I can hopefully improve on it.
"Consistency in results was a major factor here, especially coming into effect in the final series with people suffering due to BFDs and DSQs."
As for future plans and building on success Dickinson said: "Next year I am planning to stay in Radials and see how much I can improve on the results from this year. One of the bigger events for me will be the Youth Nationals which is the selection event for the Youth Worlds. This year I narrowly missed out so I am coming back to try again."
Full results from the regatta can be found here.