Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond Interview at Sail for Gold 2014


Ben Saxton (BS) & Hannah Diamond (HD) Interview at Sail for Gold 2014

Harken interviewer: Hannah Cotterell (HC)

HC: Ben and Hannah thank you for joining us here at the start of the Sail for Gold regatta! We’re here at the Portland and Weymouth National Sailing Academy. How are you feeling in the run up to the start of Sail for Gold?

HD: We’re really excited to get a chance to race in the UK, we don’t spend that much time here so it’s really nice to be racing on home waters, somewhere a bit more familiar and not too far from home.

HC: Nice to be back at home for a change?

HD: Definitely!

HC: What’s your focus during the regatta, what would you like to get out of it?

BS: We are working towards the worlds in a couple of months which is our big regatta this year, so we want to get quick around the course, especially upwind, especially off start lines and the leeward mark. The acceleration phase and then just tie that in with generally being quick so we make other people feel the speed!

HC: Lots of practice at perfecting techniques then; that’s the plan?

BS & HD: Yeah!


HC: You’ve been sponsored by Harken for some time now, what made you decide to team up with Harken in the run up to Rio 2016?

HD: We spend a lot of hours on the water so it’s great to know that the products we are using are the most reliable and the best that are out there. We feel that with Harken it’s really great that we can help each other out, get some advice and know that the products we’re using are the best that there is.

HC: And do you find that you know what you’re looking for or that you go to the team and say, “we’re looking to improve in this area, what advice have you got, what new products are on the market etc.”?

BS: It’s both ways. They’ve told us they have this new product and we like it but then there are other bits that I know I want, this block with this bit here, with an auto ratchet - because we know what suits us as it were. Yeah so it’s two way.

HC: Are there any products you’ve found particularly useful for the Nacra 17 that you’d recommend for someone else?

HD: All the blocks that we use are great. We’ve specified a bit more the sizes that we’re looking for and we also use the Harken Hullkote in the lead up to every regatta to make sure the boats in its best condition and it leaves a really nice finish.

HC: And you apply that before every regatta?

HD: Yes, religiously! It’s become kind of like a superstition now we have to do that before we start racing.

HC: On your website you say that you aim to be the best Nacra 17 catamaran sailors in the world. What’s involved in your training to get you ready for 2016?

BS: A lot of time and a lot of effort! We basically think that if we can turn up with a boat that’s good enough and then we sail it we’ve probably got the racing skills or are largely there with that. So if we can learn how to apply ourselves both mentally, physically and have a boat that’s tip-top we’ll be fast.

HC: So lots of dedication, lots of training!

BS: Yes time off is hard to find!

HC: Note to other sailors out there who want to be in your shoes!

HC: You first both sailed together back in 2002. Since then you have sailed with other crews in various boats before joining forces in the Nacra. How easy have you found it to adjust to different crews?

HD: I think because we’ve both sailed a number of different boats, swapping boats and crews means we’ve got quite a wide set of skills between us. I think that’s a massive strength for the two of us. We haven’t quite narrowed our skillset down just to the Nacra 17 but leading up towards Rio we definitely need to be the best Nacra 17 sailors. Last year I think our learning was accelerated by the fact that we had such a range of skills between us.

HC: So it’s actually helped you?

BS & HD: Definitely

HC: So it’s good to have tried out different boats, different crews and then you come together hopefully with a pair that work well once you’ve decided how you sail together.

BS: Yeah we’ve learnt from a good variety

HC: How did you find the transition from previous classes and getting into the Nacra. What sets the Nacra 17 apart from other dinghies that you’ve raced?

HD: I think for us we’ve kind of had to hit the ground running because I’d taken a bit of time out of Olympic sailing and Ben had been doing a lot of 470 sailing and obviously that’s completely different to the Nacra.

So we knew that we had to start from day one and work harder than everyone else to make sure that we were at least at that level, if not ahead of them last year and we’ve kind of continued that through. I think it actually helped us that we didn’t have any expectations of the boat. We had no catamaran experience so we didn’t know anything about the boat which meant we had a completely open mind and I think that was really helpful to us last year. Having no limits and being able to try things to see what actually worked rather than having any pre conceptions of what was going to be fast or not.

HC: So a bit like starting from scratch and just saying let’s see how it goes?

HD: Exactly!

BS: Yeah and then it’s still just sailing. It’s still just a boat weather you’re on a forty foot yacht or a 470 it’s still just sailing.

HC: How big a part does your fitness regime play in your Olympic campaign, what’s involved in day to day training, how serious is it?

HD: Well our roles are quite different in the boat. My role is very much more physical, I have the mainsheet and the kite sheet so part of that is time on the water and getting used to the loads on the boat. Part of that is racing and making sure we’ve got enough fitness to do the specific job that we need to do. But obviously there needs to be a lot of groundwork done in the gym.

HC: Diet as well is that important?

BS: Diet is quite a lot just keeping healthy because we’re under quite a lot of stress.

HC: Keep away from junk food then!

HD & BS: Yes!

BS: Then just maintaining weights and recovering. There’s quite a lot on recovery

HC: Well I know you guys are really busy and on the water in probably the next hour, but from everyone at the Harken Team thank you for speaking with us today and we’ll be following you so best luck!

HD & BS: Thank you


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