TWELVE months ago sailing was an alien experience for Hailsham cancer survivor Lillie Killick.
However, after taking part in an around the Isle of Wight sailing competition on Saturday, Lillie can’t wait for more.
Diagnosed with leukemia in 2010, the 18-year-old finished her final treatment in March last year before being invited to join the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust during the summer.
Set up in 2003 by retired British sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur, the Trust gives young people in recovery from cancer the chance to rebuild their confidence through sailing and is the official charity of the annual 50-nautical mile circuit race around the Isle of Wight.
And with one previous four-day trip already under her belt, Sussex Downs College pupil Killick joined 16,000 competitors across 1,584 boats to contest the 83rd edition over the weekend.
Less than favourable wind conditions meant for a long day out on the water for all involved but Killick could not wipe the smile off her face.
“Last August I got invited on my first trip, I had never been sailing before and just wanted to try something different,” she said.
“I was quite confident before the race, although there was a lot of competitive banter going on between the Trust boats. When I was undergoing my treatment I didn’t even imagine I would be the person I am now, the Trust has done so much for me.
“I came along and met a load of new people who I could talk with about things I can’t talk about with my friends and family because they’ve been through a similar thing to me.
“I definitely want to carry on sailing, I want to learn how to do it properly by myself and one day buy my own boat.
“Ellen is amazing; she does so much for the trust. She is so incredible; she has been around the world and is a real inspiration.”
With winds at a minimum, racing was well off the record pace set by Sir Ben Ainslie in 2013 with line honours this time round going to Pete Cumming aboard GC32 Team Richard Mille in 8:51.37 hours.