Sailing star Ben Saxton hoping to go from Grafham Water to Olympic gold

Huntingdon sailer Ben Saxton with partner Nicola Groves. Picture: RICHARD HEATHCOTE/GETTY IMAGES

Huntingdon sailer Ben Saxton with partner Nicola Groves. Picture: RICHARD HEATHCOTE/GETTY IMAGES - Credit: Getty Images

Huntingdon sailor Ben Saxton insists he already feels at home at Rio as he prepares for his Olympic bow.

This week saw Saxton named on the Team GB sailing team for the 2016 Rio Olympics, set to compete in the new Nacra 17 class alongside Nicola Groves.

Having first joined forces in September 2014, Saxton and Groves were an almost immediate success and won a World Cup silver medal in Miami last year, before claiming gold at the European Championships in September.

And Saxton, a former Kimbolton School pupil who began his sailing career at Grafham Water, is adamant his previous experiences of sailing in Brazil will pay off big time when the Games get underway this summer.

“The last year for us has gone really quite well,” the 25-year-old said. “We had a long training period in the autumn and that led us up to the European Championships.

“We went into them with an attacking mindset and we smashed it with a win.

“We went through another training block getting ready for some important events which we did well at, so we’re on a bit of a roll.

Most Read

“I think the nice thing for our preparation is that we’re very consistent now across events. It’s a long time since we had a bad slip-up and when it’s going well we’re hitting medals.

“In our ‘bad’ races we’re finishing fifth or sixth but there are opportunities for us to finish higher. We’ve still got a step to go until we’re medalling every time, but it’s nice to win some good medals.

“We prefer winning gold as it’s so different to winning medals of other colours!

“I’ve been going to Rio since 2014. We feel quite at home now in Rio. The set-up on shore is really good and on the water so we’re really looking forward to it.”

Although Saxton is now preparing to make his Olympic bow, it wasn’t that long ago that he was representing University of Southampton.

Over 60 per cent of gold medallists since 1992 have participated in BUCS sport, with 56 members of Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics competing for Great Britain at the World University Games.

In 2010 Saxton and Holly Scott claimed Handicap fleet victory at the University Championships and he insists these early experiences are what helped him get to where he is today.

“I had a great experience racing at university,” he added. “We never managed to do well in the team racing but we did really well in the fleet racing and the yachting.

“The yachting was a bigger team, so it was great sailing around with my mates and winning.

“Sailing at university for me was a bit more background because I was the development team by that time. But I’m a strong believer in that you have to sail at all sorts of events to be as rounded as possible.”

British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the national governing body for Higher Education (HE) sport in the UK, organising leagues and competitions for more than 150 institutions across 52 different sports.

Supported by Deloitte, BUCS offers programmes to athletes from a grass roots level through to Commonwealth and Olympic Games hopefuls