Johannesburg sailor Emma Clark is relishing the prospect of facing the toughest competitors in her class when she represents South Africa at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships in Tavira, Portugal from 12-19 July.
Clark, who competes in the Laser Radial class, is one of a team of eight sailors announced by SA Sailing. And although she’s just 17, the talented teenager is no stranger to international competition.
“I first represented South Africa in 2011, when I was in grade nine. I was selected for the Optimist African Championships team. It was an incredible feeling to know that I had made Team South Africa and I was representing the country in a sport that I loved. I still remember the trip as if it were yesterday, all the memories and experiences I had there I will cherish forever,” explained Clark, who also represented SA at the All Africa Games that same year.
“I was the youngest girl on the South African team and I got to meet, not only the South African athletes who were trying to compete in the Olympics, but also athletes from around Africa. I was second girl in the competition and 14th overall. In this very competitive fleet, I was ecstatic about my result.”
Clark is accustomed to being outnumbered by the boys, but it’s something she has learnt to use to her advantage. “Sailing is very male dominated sport, but I like to take it as a challenge to show them I can do it just as well as them. The problem comes with weight and strength where I am not able to achieve what they can – but I don’t let that stop me from trying.”
As for the prospect of taking on the world in Portugal in July, Clark reckoned: “I am very nervous since I have not had as much exposure to international fleets as the rest of the team. But I am excited to learn new techniques and gain valuable experience in the extremely competitive fleet. I cannot wait for it.
“I will do my absolute best and push my hardest. It is an honour to be selected and I will do my best to show them what I can do,” she added.
SA team for the 2014 Youth World Championships:
420: Ryan Robinson and Dominic vd Walt
29er: Euan and Sean Hurter
SL16: Brandon Wijtenburg and Todd Fisher
Laser Radial boy: Marcello Marcia
Laser Radial girl: Emma Clark