ASHWELL sailor Ben Saxton had the pre-World Championship boost he was looking for when he claimed gold at the Sail for Gold Regatta in Weymouth and Portland with teammate Hannah Diamond.

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The Rio 2016 Olympic Games hopeful, 23, and a former European silver medallist in the 470 class, clinched victory in the Nacra 17 class - the new mixed multihull event brought in for the 2016 Games- which was the first British medal in the new class from the four events that Saxton and the British Sailing squad have competed in so far.

Saxton and Diamond won the Sail for Gold event, held on the Olympic and Paralympic waters of Weymouth and Portland, by five points over British teammates Lucy Macgregor and Tom Phipps, and sailed a consistent series of 12 races to put them into pole position heading into the final day of the regatta.

Strong winds across the Dorset venue made the final day’s medal racing last Thursday impossible for the high performance catamaran sailors, denying Saxton and Diamond the chance to secure gold with a final flourish.

But they were delighted with their regatta nonetheless, which comes as a timely confidence boost in their preparations for the Nacra 17 World Championships in the Netherlands next month (July 20-28).

“We came in [to this regatta] not expecting anyone to beat us,” Saxton explained.

“If we sailed well, we knew we could win but we knew we’d also have to sail well to beat the other British guys, so that’s the main happy bit about winning, the fact that we actually sailed quite well.”

“It’s the first of many [medals] to come hopefully,” the helmsman continued. “We came fourth at Hyeres [World Cup regatta] and that was a little bit gutting not to get a medal, so now it’s good to come and get a proper medal.

“Sail for Gold this year has been awesome – we’ve had everything you can ask for from an event.

“We’ve had loads of wind, no wind, fun racing.

“The British weather did good, it was nice sailing with Hannah.

“It was just a great event and Weymouth’s done really well.”

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