Familiarity and friendship helping Wilson and Hill find form in Sarasota

Having rowed together at U23 and university level, Holly Hill and Melissa Wilson are now competing with the best at the World Rowing Championships

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Melissa Wilson and Holly Hill at the GBRT World Championships team announcement in 2017 (Naomi Baker)

Holly Hill and Melissa Wilson came into the 2017 World Rowing Championships as a somewhat unknown quantity on the senior stage, but two fine performances have shot the pair into the limelight in Florida.

Second to the Kiwi duo of Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler, who broke Heather Stanning and Helen Glover’s world best time in Poznan this year, was followed up by a dominant display in the repechage to win by almost seven seconds and secure an A final spot.

These results come in a first ever senior regatta for Hill and Wilson in the pair, let alone debut World Championships, but the Cambridge University students are relishing the underdog status and determined to enjoy every minute.

“We came into the regatta not knowing a huge amount about where we might place,” said 23-year-old Hill.

“We didn’t race the World Cups as a pair so this was a really big opportunity for us to go out and see what we could do. We’ve just been having a huge amount of fun this week. To stay ahead of the Germans by such a margin in the rep is a real positive and hopefully we can take this forward to Saturday.”

>>> World Rowing Championships: Day four report

Having first raced together in 2015, Hill and Wilson have competed in the same boat at the 2015 U23 World Championships, at university – including the 2017 Boat Race – and now the World Championships.

And for the pair that experience and familiarity in the boat, combined with what they have learned this summer training full time with the British squad, has been a huge catalyst in their success in Sarasota-Bradenton.

“We’ve taken each race as they have come but we’ve wanted to deliver the speed that we found over the summer,” said Wilson.

“We want to do ourselves justice in the final so we’ll focusing on debriefing and resting well before then. We don’t want to place a cap on what we can do out there in the race.”

>>> All you need to know about the 2017 World Rowing Championships in Sarasota-Bradenton

Hill added: “We’re learning a huge amount this summer. The GB squad as a whole is very good so it’s great when you do training pieces that you’re comparing yourselves with other boats who are world class.

“They’re showing us how it’s done and we’re learning from that and hopefully can improve along with everyone else in the team.

“Racing together for a few years now has allowed us to be quite honest with each other without taking things too personally, which is very helpful – if something isn’t right we’re not afraid to raise it.

“But on the whole it’s been a lot of fun because that’s what racing with your mate is like.”

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