Lymington's Hannah Snellgrove takes prestigious silver at Kieler Woche in Germany
LYMINGTON sailor Hannah Snellgrove produced an outstanding sequence of races to take a prestigious silver in the largest sailing event in the world.
Snellgrove finished the first day in second place. She then held her nerve throughout the 127th edition of Kieler Woche to take second.
Poland’s Agata Barwinska dominated from the start, while Germany’s Julia Büsselberg took third.
The annual sailing event, Kieler Woche, or Kiel Week, is the largest globally and one of the largest ‘Volksfeste’ in Germany, attracting millions of people every year from Germany and neighbouring countries.
Snellgrove, who learned to sail at the Salterns Sailing Club before moving to Royal Lymington Yacht Club and Lymington Town Sailing
Club, struggled in the opening race, finishing 16th. However, each competitor is allowed one discard to nullify a result.
The British Sailing Team member showed her fighting spirit to come back and take two second-place finishes to move behind leader Barwinska, who won the opening three races.
The three-time national champion bookended fifth, sixth, sixth and 11th-place finishes with two wins to enter the final day in a podium position.
The overall winner sat out the final race after securing an insurmountable lead. But, Snellgrove held on to take silver ahead of Maxime Jonker of the Netherlands, who finished the last day as the best sailor.
Snellgrove, who began sailing aged eight, said: “I was feeling in really good form going coming off the back of a great summer in Weymouth and a training block in Marseilles, the sailing venue for Paris 2024.
“I feel like I had been consistently executing good speed and boat handling in training.
“However, there was a pretty critical moment in the penultimate race where I got a yellow flag from the jury for illegal propulsion at probably the most unfortunate moment on the first downwind. I then had to try and avoid all other boats taking a penalty and haemorrhaged places.
“It meant the pressure was on for the last race and trying to keep the top French boat and two top Dutch boats behind me or within touching distance.”
In 2015, Snellgrove lost her funding after being cut from the British Sailing Team just six days after finishing 16th at the ISAF Sailing World Championships. However, after self-funding her racing with a crowdfunding campaign, selectors reselected her in October 2018.
Cambridge graduate Snellgrove added: “I’m thrilled to be back on an international podium after picking up another silver at Vilamoura coaches’ regatta in the spring. I had a string of finishes outside the medal positions, so breaking into top-three has always been a bit of a ceiling to push past, and I’m very happy to have done that.
“The next step is to recreate those performances on the higher pressure stages of European and world championships.”
British Sailing Team and Royal Lymington Yacht Club member Matilda Nicholls also raced and finished just outside the top 10 in 11th.
During her time away from the sport, she worked part-time as a journalist with the New Milton Advertiser and Lymington Times and as a freelance sailing coach.
After launching a crowdfunding campaign, she raised over £7,000 and bought a new boat before a fourth-place at the Enoshima World Cup.
Her performances forced her way back into the British Sailing Team, where she achieved a top-10 finish with seventh at the world championships.
The next stop for Snellgrove is the European championships in Bulgaria at the beginning of October, followed by the world championships in Oman at the beginning of December.
Her journey has received a boost with the recent sponsorship of Moore Barlow Lawyers.