Silver for Sills in dramatic Olympic circuit opener
Silver for Sills in dramatic Olympic circuit opener by British Sailing Team 31 Jan 02:39 PST 23-28 January 2023 Sam Sills dominated the opening round of the iQFOiL Games in Lanzarote © Sailing Energy / iQFOiL Class
British windsurfer Sam Sills claimed a silver medal in a thrilling final of the first Olympic class regatta of 2023.
Sills, 29, from Launceston in Cornwall, dominated the opening round of the iQFOiL Games in Lanzarote but had to settle for second after losing to Poland’s Pawel Tarnowski in a dramatic winner-take-all medal race.
Sills earned an automatic place in the finals of the event after winning nine of the 15 races, but the racing format of the iQFOiL class – which will make its debut in Paris 2024 – sees the top three riders go head-to-head head to head to determine the final podium positions.
Combined with the incredible speed of the iQFOiL windsurfers, the format makes for tense and exciting viewing – but for the athletes the danger is much greater.
In an incredible sequence of events, Sills and Tarnowski were neck and neck as they raced to the finish, before both crashed just meters short of the line.
Tarnowski was the fastest to get back on his board, crossing the line to take first place and win the event.
Frenchman Nicolas Goyard, the third athlete in the race, also passed Sills, but in a display of sportsmanship stopped short of the line to allow Sills to take silver.
“It was so intense,” said Sills, who competed in a medal race for the first time. “Everything happened so fast, it’s honestly still a blur. I think it’s going to take me a little time to process, but it was very extreme, very intense and a lot of fun.”
Sills, who lives in Portland, Dorset, home of the British Sailing Team, said he was delighted to reach the podium in his first outing of 2023, a crucial year for the British Sailing Team as it looks to round out its squad for Paris 2024 to choose. .
“It’s amazing to be in this position with only a year and a half until the Olympics,” Sills added.
“This result is another stepping stone towards the goal of an Olympic gold medal in Paris, and I’m just going to keep pushing hard. This result feels like a very special moment in my career and I will look back on it with a very happy memories.”
There were notable British performances across the fleet.
Scottish athlete Andy Brown made the quarter-finals in the 84-strong men’s fleet, finishing 10th overall, while Sills’ fellow Cornishman Finn Hawkins was 18th.
In the women’s fleet, fellow Scot Islay Watson was seventh, British Sailing Team athlete Alice Read from Oxford was 13th and Saskia Sills, Sam’s sister, came 18th out of 66 athletes.
The British Yachting Team will field athletes in the Lanzarote International Regatta later this month before turning their attention to the Princess Sofia Regatta in early April.