Saxton and Dabson win first foiling Nacra 17 world title

Image: Didier Hillaire

Ben Saxton and Katie Dabson have claimed gold at the first ever foiling Nacra 17 World Championship, which drew to a close in dramatic fashion at La Grande Motte, France on Sunday.

The mixed multihull duo are the second British Sailing Team crew to be crowned World Champions in the space of a week, with Dylan Fletcher-Stuart Bithell winning the 49er world title in Portugal last weekend.

And Saxton and Dabson’s are only the second set of names ever to grace the Nacra 17 World Champion roll of honour, with France’s Billy Besson-Marie Riou the only previous titleholders in four previous editions since the class’s introduction in 2013 in its pre-foiling era.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s every dream come true!” said Rio Olympian Saxton after the medal race.

“I’ve never been an Olympic classes World Champion before. Well done to Katie, and thanks to our coaches Hugh and Derek and to National Lottery funding from back at home. It’s awesome!”

Saxton and Dabson went in to the final day of competition wearing the yellow leaders’ jerseys, but with two fleet races still to go to determine qualifiers for the top ten medal race positions, there could be no let up, with Saxton admitting that the successes of his British 49er colleagues last week was spurring him on.

He laughed: “I thought if Dylan and Stu can do it and James and Fynn got a medal as well then I thought I’d better buck my ideas up!”

Full results from the 2017 Nacra 17 World Championship

At Hungary’s Lake Balaton earlier on Sunday, however, there was disappointment for Ed Wright in his quest for a second World Championship title at the Finn Gold Cup.

Bournemouth’s Wright sailed a solid week amid testing conditions and two days lost to lack of wind, to qualify for the medal race in the silver medal position.

But a sixth place in the ten-boat medal final race meant Wright narrowly missed out on the podium spots, finishing on equal points with the Netherlands’ Nick Heiner but missing out on the bronze on countback.

Sweden’s Max Salminen took gold, with silver going to France’s Jonathan Lobert.

“It’s been a very eventful regatta,” Wright surmised.  “I started off very well but then managed to get myself a bad result in the second race which was kind of a noose around my neck the whole week.

“It was very difficult to try and be extreme at all, and here it definitely pays to be extreme because sides of the course come in and if you’re not there then you kind of get left behind.”

He continued: “I think I managed pretty well to go into the medal race in silver medal position and actually I thought it might be time for another Gold Cup win.  I felt good and my speed was good as well.  I just got a bit unlucky on the start. I wasn’t really that punchy.”

“Heiner got away and if he won the race I needed to be pretty high up – fifth and I was sixth so it was pretty close.  It’s impressive that the whole top four finished within three points of each other. It was very good, close racing and it’s just a shame that I was the unlucky one.”

The British Sailing Team’s Henry Wetherell concluded the event in 12th, Ben Cornish was 21st, Pete McCoy 41st and Hector Simpson 46th.

Full results from the 2017 Finn Gold Cup