WEYMOUTH-BASED sailor Islay Watson believes her first RS:X Youth World Windsurfing Championships could hardly have been better – and feels her sister Erin deserves plenty of thanks, writes Ross Lawson.

The pair both took to the waters in Limassol, Cyprus, at the end of last year, pitting their wits against the world’s very best sailing talent.

It was an experience completely out of the norm for Islay, 16, who finished fifth in the under-17 category, crossing the line 19th overall.

But with a result beyond what even she expected, Islay believes the supporting hand of her sister made a big difference, delighted to have made her mark in one of the biggest events of her career to date.

“It was my first senior World Championships, I was definitely nervous but with me not having done it before I could treat it as a practice and make sure I didn’t put too much pressure on myself,” she said.

“I coped better than I expected so I was really happy, I haven’t really had too much wind to deal with before but it went quite well and I was able to learn quite a lot which I can take forward into the next events.

“Erin helped a huge amount, she’s done one of these before and knew what was going on.

“She knew what to do with some of the organisational points, so I could focus a lot more on just

performing and making sure

I could give it my all, it was a

good boost to be able to have her there.”

While the sisters live in Aviemore, their travel spans the length of the country as they train at the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy.

And it was Erin, 17, who just about took family bragging rights, reaching the finish line 16th in the fleet – a position she believes has room to be improved upon.

But rather than just focusing on the result, Erin is adamant there are plenty of positives to draw upon heading into a vital 2017, starting with the Youth Nationals in April.

“I finished 16th, it wasn’t really where I was looking to be but

I’m the lightest in the fleet – I definitely held my own in those first few days but after that it got windier so I go thrown about a

bit,” added Erin, who benefits from being part of the SSE Next Generation programme alongside Islay.

“I was also helping Islay through the week, and she was certainly surprising! She knew more than she thought she did and performed really well.

“I actually found it took the stress off me when I was able to help her out, it stops me getting caught up with everything else and it gives me something else to be able to focus on.”

*SSE’s Next Generation programme partners with SportsAid to provide financial support and training to the sports stars of the future. Keep up to date with the latest at @SSENextGen