HUNDREDS of mourners are expected to attend the funeral of a Hampshire teenager who was hailed as one of Britain's best young sailors.
Members of Hampshire's sailing community voiced their shock after the hugely-talented Jess Eales was found dead the day after celebrating her 17th birthday.
Her funeral at St Thomas's Church, Lymington, next Friday will be followed by a private service at Hinton Park woodland burial site near Christchurch.
The church is only a few hundred yards from the home of Sir Ben Ainslie but the Olympic sailing star is unable to attend.
Jess lived in nearby Pennington with her parents, Nick and Annette, and her 15-year-old brother James.
She died just weeks after representing Britain at the ISAF youth sailing world championships at Tavira, Portugal.
In April she won a gold medal at the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) youth national championships at Weymouth and Portland.
Speaking shortly after her death her mother said: “She was so happy the week before. She had a wonderful time in Portugal - she said it was the best week of her life.
“She was never pressured with sailing, it was always something she loved and it was what she wanted to do.”
Her father added: “She was very modest about everything. Her friends only found out about her sailing when her brother went into school wearing her RYA sailing jacket.”
Jess went to Priestlands School, Lymington, and later attended Brockenhurst College, which has described her as one of its brightest students.
Her body was found in woodland near Sway on July 31. Police have confirmed that her death is not being treated as suspicious.
Last night Hampshire-based sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston added his voice to the growing chorus of tributes to Jess.
He said: “She seemed very talented. Her death is a tragedy - a waste of a young life.”