From the humble beginnings of the Bermuda Rowing Association’s two-week Learn to Row course in the summer of 2015, Yannick Hillier is now ranked 33rd in the junior world rankings.
After just ten months of competitive rowing, Hillier was invited by the International Rowing Federation to compete at the World Rowing Junior Worlds Championships in Racice, Czech Republic last month.
The Bermudian improved his time by 20 seconds from the first heat to the finals, completing four races in total.
“I was really proud to go to the worlds,” Hillier said. “I now know what I need to do for the next Junior Worlds [in Toyko in 2019]. I met so many people [at the championships] and they were all really good. Just being in that atmosphere, with all of the countries, was kind of mind-blowing.”
Hillier will continue racing for Brentwood College School in Mill Bay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, this season, competing in the quad, double and single sculling. The 17-year-old and his rowing partner Alex Bell finished seventh in the doubles at the National Championships at St Catherines Rowing Club, Ontario, in June.
“It’s a big rowing school — they have produced about 20 Olympic rowers,” said Hillier, a former Saltus Grammar School pupil.
Hillier’s coach at Brentwood is Laryssa Biesenthal, who won bronze medals for Canada in rowing at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and Sydney Olympics in 2000.
“Yannick has been introduced to the intensity of international racing and can now take these lessons back into everyday training to assist him to reach his goals for next year’s Junior World Championship in Tokyo — an Olympic course for 2020,” she said.
Hillier, who missed out on qualifying for the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the Americas Qualifier in Curauma, Chile, in March, said he has been inspired by Bermuda’s Olympic rower Shelley Pearson.
“I went to Chile for the Youth Olympic trials — it was the same venue Shelley actually qualified for the  Rio Olympics, said Hillier, who previously represented Bermuda in sailing.
“I’d already started reading about her and that kind of inspired me. It would be nice to meet her.”
The Bermuda Rowing Association is encouraging novices and experienced rowers, youth and adult, to join the club. For more details visit www.BermudaRowingAssociation.com