MYLOR Bridge sailor Benno Marstaller and his Great Britain teammates have won Yacht and Yachting magazine’s Young Sailors of the Year award for 2014.
Benno, aged 13, who sails for both Restronguet Sailing Club and Mylor Yacht Club, was part of the Optimist squad which won bronze in the World Team Racing Championships at Riva del Garda, Italy, last summer - the first team to win a medal in 51 editions of the event.
Benno’s father Harald said he and wife Hildegard only found out their son had been nominated for the award at the end of last year.
“We didn’t know at all,” Harald said.
“We were told in November or December, then we got a message from the Optimist Association telling us they had won and it was published a week ago.
“But Benno didn’t win it on his own. It was a very special team they had last year. Probably the best they’ve ever had.”
A student at Penryn College, Benno is coached locally by Dr Phil Slater, who also coached five-time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie when he was a similar age.
And Harald said he was delighted with his son’s progress, with many already tipping Benno for future Olympic success.
“We’ve been told that a lot of people haven’t seen a sailor like him in the last 20 years,” he said “But he’s very lucky to have such good people, like Dr Slater, around him.”
“Benno has some aims, but he’s too bright to say he wants to become an Olympic sailor. He used to say that in ten years he wanted to be in the America’s Cup, but he’s extended that to 12 years recently!
“His short term aim is to make the Great Britain World Championships team again for the trip to Argentina in October. I think he’ll be aiming high there. He’s pretty confident he can make the team again.”
Like Sam Goodchild, another local sailor enjoying recent success, the cost of competing is one of the biggest hurdles for Benno and his family, with sponsorship hard to come by.
“There’s basically nothing,” explained Harald. “We’ve tried to get some people on board but basically we finance it ourselves, which is why he doesn’t compete as much as some other kids. We just have to manage things as well as we can.”