by Lindsey Bell
At the Nacra 17 World Championship, Great Britain’s sailors were celebrating silver success on Saturday, as Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond claimed a podium finish on a windless final day in The Hague (27 July).
2013 Nacra 17 World Championship
Ed Wright made it a double celebration for the British Sailing Team, also winning silver at the Finn European Championship in Warnemunde, Germany, while up-and-coming Finn talent Peter McCoy claimed the Finn Junior European title as the top under 22-year-old sailor.
Counting all scores in top five from their eight-race series, Saxton and Diamond 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 at 1540.
'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 Saxton.
'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!' the Southampton sailor said of his crew.
Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond - 2013 Nacra 17 World Championship
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.
'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.
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.'
Fellow British crews Lucy Macgregor-Tom Phipps, Pippa Wilson-John Gimson and Rupert White-Nikki Boniface finished in 11th, 12th and 18th respectively.
Meanwhile, Ed Wright claimed European Championship silver in the Finn class after a lack of wind in Warnemunde also prevented any medal racing on Saturday’s final day.
The 35-year-old finished seven points behind Slovenia’s Vasilij Zbogar after a consistent week in the light winds, counting results all inside the top ten across the eight-race series.
'I’ve changed a lot of my set-up over the last year, so now I have a more light-wind and lightweight set up with Rio in mind,' the 2012 Worlds silver medallist Wright explained.
'It’s good to know that I haven’t lost too much of my speed as a result and am really happy to come away with a medal this week.'
'I think we’re expecting similar conditions for our Worlds in Estonia next month so I’m looking forward to that.'
Mark Andrews finished 13th, Andrew Mills was 15th and 21-year-old Emsworth sailor Peter McCoy claimed the Junior European title, finishing 23rd overall.
Nacra 17 website