Exeter University graduate Kieran Holmes Martin scored his best-ever finish at a senior world windsurfing regatta when he finished fifth in Japan.
His success was even more remarkable given the fact that it was five months ago since he last stood on a board in competition.
But he returned to action in some style at the RS:X Worlds in Enoshima, Japan, where other West Country interest revolved around Cornish girls Isobel Hamilton (Bude) and Saskia Sills (Launceston), who finished the women’s regatta in 30th and 56th respectively.
But it was the 22-year-old from Cheadle who had most to smile about. After the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma back in April, Martin packed away his board to focus on his final year of studies. Having now graduated from Exeter University with a degree in mechanical engineering, he soon showed that he had lost none of his form, climbing up through the gold fleet from a slow start to the competition to be in with an outside chance of a medal going into the final day.
Getting his first real taste of rac- ing at the Tokyo 2020 sailing venue, Martin took a solid sixth place in the double-points medal race to seal a top-five finish overall. “I’m really pleased with how the week has gone,” he said. “It was an awesome medal race. Nice and windy, which made things interesting. After the reach it was quite hard to change positions, but I’m happy with how I raced.
“Palma was my last regatta as the majority of competitions clashed with exam season at university. So to come here and do well was a happy surprise. Graduating from uni and getting a fifth place at the World Championships in the same year is pretty epic. I want to say a huge thanks to my coach Dom Tidey and physio Matt Tinsley for all their help.”
The men’s fleet was dominated by China, who took the gold and bronze medals, separated by Switzerland’s Mateo Sanz Lanz.
Martin’s British team-mate Tom Squires rounded out the event in 40th with youngsters Dan Wilson (the son of former Cornish wind- surfer Penny Way), Joe Bennett and Andy Brown finishing in 57th, 61st and 62nd overall.
Wilson’s younger sister, Emma, was the UK’s top finisher in the women’s event, narrowly missing out on a medal in the women’s under-21 division while claiming 19th place overall. The 18-year-old from Christchurch was just edged out for age-group bronze medal honours following a close battle with Berenice Mege, of France.
The Wilsons’ mum, Penny, is a two-time Olympian and three times world champion, who took up the sport at Siblyback Lake on the edge of Bodmin Moor, near Liskeard, when she lived at Cargreen, near Saltash (her father, David, was a BBC tv producer in Plymouth).
It’s been a strong year for Emma, in particular, as she has taken a number of top-ten finishes in senior competition before going on to win gold at the RS:X Youth World Championships in Torbole, Italy in July.
“I’m pretty happy with my week overall,” said the Dorset teenager. “It was really tough and it’s always so tight sailing with the best in the world, but it’s been a great experience and, most importantly, I had fun.
“I am happy with my progress and it’s nice to see that I’m still improving. But there’s a long way to go and I’m determined to keep that improvement going.’
She will now travel to China in December to defend her Youth World Sailing Championship title.