SAM Sills is determined to learn from a ‘tough’ World Championships on the road to the Olympic Games, writes Tom Harle of Sportsbeat.

The Launceston windsurfer, already selected by Team GB for Paris 2024, found the going tough at the global gathering of the iQFOiL class in Lanzarote.

Sills’ place at the Games is secure, meaning he did not peak for an event that acts as a do-or-die Olympic qualifier for the majority of competing nations, finishing 34th.

“It was really tough and I’m pretty disappointed,” said Sills. "I know I’ve not peaked for this event and that it would be difficult but I hoped I would do a bit better than that.

“It has been an amazing Championships all around and a lot of the guys are at their peak as this is the Olympic trials for many nations.

“The finals were really intense and it was stressful to watch some of my mates trying to qualify for the Olympics.

“I wasn’t expecting much personally, the margins are really small in this event and I struggled to get on the right side of them. I have to remember that every day between now and the Olympics is just to learn and that’s the only thing that matters.”

Sills made a solid start in the first two days of the regatta but soon slipped down the field and found himself playing catch-up, latterly incurring penalties as he attempted to overtake rivals.

“I felt I was in a good position to move forward but things started to go wrong and I had some races that went really, really badly,” said the 30-year-old.

“It turned into a bit of a mess in the end. I was happy to finish on a high with third place, now it’s just about recovering as fast as I can and going again.”

With this being his first taste of the Olympics, Sills is having to rewire his campaign strategy. In the past he had peaked early in the year but now has to produce his best in July and August.

“We sat down and made the plan for this year and the ambition was to switch everything around,” he said. “It’s been a bit difficult but this is a good measure of how good my competitors are at their peak and where I need to get to. It’s onwards and upwards.”

Sills’ team-mate Emma Wilson dominated the women’s side of the competition, winning 15 of 20 qualifying races.

But the uniquely challenging format of the iQFOiL means that was not enough to secure victory, with all scores wiped for the final series where Wilson won silver.

“The format is absolutely savage,” said Sills.

“The thing I tried to remember when I was in a similar position last year is that you haven’t won at any point, you’re level pegging with two other people heading into that final race and that’s all that matters. The old system has gone – this is what we have to deal with. I think there is a lot of luck involved, you just have to try to get it right in the moment.”

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