Silver medal secured by Ashwell sailor Saxton

Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond. Photo: Thom Touw Photography

Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond. Photo: Thom Touw Photography - Credit: Archant

ASHWELL sailor Ben Saxton was celebrating silver success this weekend, as he and teammate Hannah Diamond claimed a podium finish on a windless final day of the Nacra 17 World Championship in The Hague on Saturday.

The Cambridge-born Rio 2016 hopeful Saxton and Diamond, from Warsash in Hampshire, were guaranteed a medal heading in to the final day of this first World Championship for the newest Olympic class, but were prevented from a chance to upgrade their silver into gold due to a lack of breeze off Scheveningen after an initial storm had passed through.

Saxton admitting to ‘chomping at the bit’ to go racing on Saturday, to try and overcome the narrow three-point margin that the French pairing of Billy Besson-Marie Riou had at the top of the leaderboard in the final medal race, but the breeze never materialised and thoughts of racing were finally abandoned.

“I’m massively pleased at winning a medal. The sport’s all about winning medals in a few years’ time in Rio, so to prove we can get a medal here is pretty cool,” said the 23-year-old helmsman, who switched into the Nacra 17 class at the end of 2012 after previously sailing the 470.

“We would have loved the chance to have had a go at the French guy but it wasn’t to be. We’re really happy with a silver, Hannah’s done a good job!”

Diamond, also 23, was equally complimentary of her teammate: “Ben’s done a really good job! We’ve had some really tactical racing and we’ve been pretty consistent all week so I think we’ve worked really well together.

“We’ve had conditions that we weren’t really expecting – a lot of tide, and lighter winds than maybe we were all expecting but it’s really helpful for it to be something similar to Rio.

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“We know we’ve got a lot of work to do, but this is definitely a good step on the way.”

Although the duo can be satisfied with a great first World Championship, they know that there’s a long road to Rio ahead of them, and a lot of learning still to do in this new mixed multihull class for 2016.

Diamond explained: “The fleet’s improving so fast so just keeping moving forwards is going to be the most important thing just to make sure that we don’t sit back at all and that we’re pushing forwards through the winter and into next year.”

Saxton will be in action next at the Nacra 17 European Championship at the Italian venue of Lake Como from 20-24 August.

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