Olympic hopeful Saxton in action in Weymouth

Hannah Diamond and Ben Saxton in action. Photo: Thom Touw Photography

Hannah Diamond and Ben Saxton in action. Photo: Thom Touw Photography - Credit: thom touw

22-year-old aiming for Rio Olympics in 2016

Ashwell’s Olympic sailing hopeful Ben Saxton is looking for a boost to his World Championship prospects at this week’s Sail for Gold Regatta (June 9-13).

The 22-year-old, a European silver medallist in the 470 class, has now made the switch to the British Sailing Team’s squad in the brand new Nacra 17 multihull – a new boat introduced for the Rio 2016 Games – and helms in this mixed event with Southampton-based crew Hannah Diamond.

They will be racing their new boat on British waters for the first time at this week’s Sail for Gold Regatta, which will see over 200 sailors from 22 nations competing for honours in eight Olympic and two Paralympic classes on the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic waters of Weymouth and Portland.

The duo now have three regattas under their belt in the new class, narrowly missing out on the podium spots at the World Cup event in Hyeres, France, in April where they finished fourth.

The Sail for Gold Regatta will provide a final racing opportunity for the pair before they embark on Nacra 17 World Championships in Scheveningen, the Netherlands, in July.

Saxton said: “We’ve been training in Weymouth for a week now. We’ve made some decent chunks of improvements so we feel like we’re moving forwards. There’s lots still to go though, but there’s still three years to go before Rio.”

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Saxton, who was a training partner in the 470 to 2012 silver medallists Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell, turns 23 the day after the Sail for Gold Regatta finishes, and admits he’d been quite keen for some event silverware to celebrate with.

“Us Brits are quite good so it’ll be quite a tough week, and we’ve got some of the Aussies competing who are alright as well so it’ll probably be a little bit like the Ashes – Brits versus Aussies,” he said.

“There are a few other foreign teams as well but we should hopefully be able to put in a good result, so hopefully watch this space.”

The Sail for Gold Regatta, part of the five-stage EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup series, takes place at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy with racing starting on Sunday 9 June. The final medal races for all classes will be held on Thursday 13 June.

Follow all the action at www.sailforgold.co.uk or via Twitter at @SailforGold.

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