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Page last updated at 15:15 GMT, Thursday, 19 August 2010 16:15 UK

Hughes sails to best performance ahead of 2012

By Francis Kelly
BBC Essex Blast reporter

Katrina Hughes
Hughes has been sailing since she was five

Essex sailor Katrina Hughes is feeling confident of winning gold at London 2012 after an injury-plagued winter.

Hughes, 20, had back problems, whilst her sailing partner Penny Clark was sidelined with a kidney illness.

This has failed to stop the pair from a strong summer of sailing, finishing sixth overall in the 470 class at the recent Sail for Gold regatta in Weymouth.

Hughes told BBC Essex: "We are getting back on target now and hoping to get a good winter's training in."

The pair faces stiff opposition from another Essex sailor, Saskia Clark and her sailing partner, Sarah Ayton for the one British Olympic 470 class entry at 2012 Olympics.

"We don't really focus on it too much because at the end of the day we're aiming for gold at the Olympics and not just to beat the Brits," said the Leigh-on-Sea sailor.

"It's hard because we've got brilliant sailors on the team and we are all in contention for the Olympics, which is a little bit crazy compared to other countries that may not have that support."

Previously a member at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Burnham-on-Crouch, Hughes, who is now permanently based down in Weymouth at the Olympic sailing venue for 2012, is enjoying the relocation.

Katrina Hughes (l) and Penny Clark
Hughes and Clark came sixth overall in the 470 class in Weymouth

"It's the perfect venue for sailing; you can get light wind or up to 35 knots and it's great to go out into the bay with the big waves," she said.

"We've got a lot of us training down here which is always what you want; the chance to go out and sail together in these conditions is really good."

Even with the move to Weymouth and the possibility of participating at London Olympics in 2012, Hughes has not forgotten her roots in Leigh-on-Sea, where she still has family.

"My home club, in Burnham-on-Crouch, has given me a lot of support, they ask me to come back sometimes and talk to the kids, which is always good fun," she said.

"It is great getting them involved in sailing and to love it as much as I do."

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