Saxton and Diamond progressing well in Nacra 17 in Santander

12 September 2013 / 09:36

Ben Saxton admits he and Hannah Diamond are a year ahead of where they thought they would be as they mount a challenge for the Rio 2016 Olympics in the new Nacra 17 class.

Saxton and Diamond currently lead the Nacra 17 class, introduced this season as the new mixed catamaran for Rio, at the test event for the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Santander.

They claimed a fifth, a third and a first in the three races on Wednesday, adding to their win during the opening race of the regatta, and hold the overall lead in the class by just a point.

Austrian pair Thomas Zajac and Tanja Chiara Frank and fellow Brits Rupert White and Nicola Boniface are just behind while Pippa Wilson and John Gimson are fifth and Lucy Macgregor and Tim Carter sixth.

Next year’s ISAF Sailing World Championships act as the first qualifier for the Rio 2016 Olympics with only one British boat per class earn selection for the Games.

And Saxton, who claimed world silver with Diamond back in July, insists he didn’t think they would necessarily be in the position they are in after less than a year together.

“It’s good to be here, and it’s exactly what we want – to be here racing ready for next year,” said Saxton. “Everyone’s pushing [the boat] really quite hard which I thought might take another year.

“But we are more on the pace than we probably expected with neither of us having done cat sailing before. We expected to be punished on boat-handling and stuff.

“But we’re really quite quick and on boat-handling we’re at scratch with the rest of the fleet. It’s cool being part of the team and being well-supported, it helps to move things forward quite quickly.”

Fellow Brits Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield also lead their class, the men’s 470, while Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre are third in the women’s equivalent.

Just behind them are Olympic silver medal winning pair from London 2012 Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark and in the women’s RS:X Bryony Shaw is sixth and Izzy Hamilton eighth.

Olympic silver medallist and 2013 world champion Nick Dempsey is fifth in the men’s RS:X with the Laser and Laser Radial fleets soon to get their regatta underway in Spain.

© Sportsbeat 2013

Photo Thom Touw Photography