It's not always smooth sailing for Marian Williams, but she weathers through it all

It's not always smooth sailing for Marian Williams, but she weathers through it all

Sailor Marian Williams is plotting a course to victory by keeping motivated and not being hard on herself when she doesn't win


Marian (right) with her coach Marek Nostitz-Jackowski.
Photo: Marian Williams

Some athletes love their sport for the team support and friendship, while others love the competitive spirit, or the physical challenge. Marian Frances Ngo Williams does it for the rush.

"The rush of adrenaline you get after a good race, it makes you feel like you could do anything," says the 16-year-old sailor, "kind of like you're invincible."

For Marian, feeling on top of the world doesn't mean recreating that scene from Titanic - she prefers to have a bit more control over her boats, and has less chance of hitting icebergs in the waters of Hong Kong.

"I have been sailing for five years in total," explains the Kiangsu Chekiang College International Section student, "three years in a smaller boat, and two years in a Laser 4.7."

It's Marian's command of the Laser 4.7 that has propelled her forward in competitions. She has competed in sailing championships and regattas across both Asia and Europe.

Even if she doesn't win, each experience is worthwhile. Marian says her favourite was the European Championships last summer. "I finished 18th overall," she says. "I came nowhere close to winning."

But victory isn't everything, especially in a sport as individual as sailing. "Some of the best sailors come out of Europe; I had never done this regatta before so I was insanely nervous," Marian explains.

"I felt like all the work I had put into sailing had finally paid off and it gave me a massive sense of achievement."

Sailing is not as simple as sitting on a boat, either. It not only requires a lot of technical know-how, but sailors also need to be fit and strong to control and navigate their vessels.

"The hardest part of sailing for me has always been gaining weight and maintaining fitness levels," says Marian. "I'm a fairly lazy person so fitness is something I would really rather not do, but I have to and it's sweaty."

Some athletes have trouble keeping their weight down, but Marian has more difficulty keeping it on. "Gaining weight is very difficult for me because you have to eat healthily and a lot," she complains. "You'll always need that extra kilogram and it sucks."

Despite the challenges she has to navigate, Marian is keeping motivated by setting her sights on the horizon. "One of my main goals is to win the world championships because it would just feel amazing to know that you are the best sailor in the world," she says.

But of course, that's just the tip of the iceberg.

"Everyone wants to become an Olympian," says Marian, "and I am no exception."

Marian competing at the world championship in Japan, 2014.
Photo: Marian Williams

Bench Notes

Which song/movie title best describes you when you're playing your sport?
Another One Bites the Dust by Queen

You can have any superpower you choose for 24 hours. What do you choose and how do you use this power?
I would want the power to control things with my mind so I could rig a boat without having to walk around so much.

If you could have an unlimited supply of anything, what would it be and why?
I would love to have an unlimited supply of sailing equipment. That includes things like ropes, sails, blocks and clothes. They are crazy expensive but all necessary to compete at a certain level. Some ropes are also really pretty, and it hurts to know that they'll wear down and I'll have to replace them.

10 years in the future, you are a famous athlete. What company do you sign-on as spokesperson for, and what product do you promote?
I would want to sign on with Magic Marine because their sailing gear is really cool. I would promote their sailing shoes because I have a pair now and I've honestly never loved a pair of shoes so much in my life.

They are the most comfortable and flexible things I own and it would be such an honour to get to promote them.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
With wind in her sails


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