Hannah competed for the University of Exeter Sailing Club whilst studying Sport and Exercise Medicine.

Exeter Alumna sails to silver

University of Exeter alumna Hannah Diamond has taken silver, alongside team mate Ben Saxton, in the inaugural Narca 17 Class sailing World Championships.

The Sport and Exercise Medicine MSc. graduate (2012) travelled to The Hague, Holland for the event which saw over 60 crews from around the globe compete for the world title. Narca 17 performance catamarans have recently been chosen as one of the classes for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and, despite facing an experienced field, Hannah and Ben went into the competition as strong contenders. In April the pair finished fourth in the ISAF Sailing World Cup at Hyeres before taking the top spot in the Sail for Gold Regatta at Weymouth in early July.

Whilst windless conditions blighted the competition, a series of exceptional performances put the pair in a gold medal contention. Having left the rest of the field trailing in their wake, the Britons stood just three points behind French leaders Billy Besson and Marie Roiu going into the final race. The championships were set to come down to a nail-biting battle for the top spot before racing was cancelled due to lack of wind, scuppering any chance of victory.

Talking on her website teamsaxtondiamond.co.uk, Hannah explained her delight at the result. She said: “[Being guaranteed] a silver medal going into the medal race was an amazing position to be in and Ben and I were both really excited to have a go at getting a boat in between us and the leading French team but it wasn’t to be as the wind failed to fill in after a number of thunderstorms and the medal race was abandoned.

“Overall, we are ecstatic to have won a medal at our first World Championships but we also realise that the fleet is moving forwards at such a pace and that this is only the beginning and we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

A former Sports Scholar at the University of Exeter, Hannah has enjoyed a long record of success at international level, learning her trade in the Optimist, Laser Radial and 29er classes. In 2006 and 2007 she was crowned European Ladies Champion in the 29er class and, in 2007, GBR Youth Champion. During her studies she competed for the University of Exeter Sailing Club helping the Yachting Team win the National Championships in 2012, playing the crucial role of tactician. Alongside her University sailing Hannah also trained with British Olympic Laser Radial team.

In recent years the University of Exeter’s sailing programme has gone from strength to strength with several sailors progressing to international honours. In July 2012 scholar Alumnae Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth took gold at the 470 European Championships, whilst Nick Thompson, Izzy Hamilton, Nicola Groves and Mary Rook, also compete for the RYA British Sailing Team.

Assistant Director of Sport (Performance and Competitions), Nick Beasant, oversees the University’s High Performance Programme which offers specialist support to talented student sailors. He said: “Throughout her time at University Hannah proved herself to be an asset on the water and strong team player. We are delighted, but certainly not surprised to see her performing so well at an international level and have no doubt that these strong results in this new sailing class have put her in real contention looking forward to Rio 2016.

“We are always incredibly proud to have the opportunity to support such high quality student athletes. Our partnership with the RYA means that the University of Exeter has become a hot-bed for talented student sailors and we look forward to enjoying further success in the future.”

Hannah and Ben will now be looking to build on their fantastic start to the season at the European Championships at Lake Como, Italy from 18-24 August.

Date: 7 August 2013