British Sailing Team’s Michael Beckett has scored his best ever performance at senior level, winning the silver medal at a breezy Laser European Championships in La Rochelle.
Beckett, 23, from Solva in Pembrokeshire, put on an impressive show of consistency over the six-day regatta, only finishing outside of the top ten three times in 11 races.
The promising sailor ended up just one point behind regatta winner Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus and three ahead of third-placed Jesper Stalheim from Sweden.
“I’m so exhausted from the last few days racing that this really hasn’t sunk in,” Beckett says. “I have a silver medal, my first ever senior medal, from the Europeans and I can’t believe it.
“While it’s the result I’ve been training for years for, I just couldn’t picture it actually happening. I knew all week I had some good pace, I wasn’t necessarily the best in the fleet so I was just trying to stay consistent and it really paid off on the last day when the leaders started to struggle.”
Beckett, pictured above, said his European success has given him a timely boost ahead of the Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, in August.
“This is a massive lift for my confidence so once I’ve had time to rest I’ll be looking closely at what else I can achieve this year,” he adds.
“This result sets the bar pretty high for what I could achieve in Aarhus. I know the place is an immensely tricky venue with conditions that won’t come naturally me, but right now I’m more motivated than ever to work past that in the next few months training, to try and develop my sailing so I could potentially win a medal there too.”
Doncaster’s Jack Wetherell, 24, came home ninth thanks to a string of top ten race finishes.
“It was a great week, although I now feel exhausted!” says Wetherell. “I had really good upwind speed which helped me a lot from some difficult positions just after the start gun.”
Meanwhile, defending European champion and Rio 2016 Olympian Nick Thompson had to settle for 15th after a tough week of mixed results.
“This was a tricky event for me – too many little mistakes cost me any chance in the event early on and I never came back,” says Thompson, 32, from Lymington, Hants. “I was, however, delighted to see Micky and Jack knock in some fantastic results again showing the depth within the squad.”
Sam Whaley finished 34th in the gold fleet, while Jack Cookson was 44th and Daniel Whitely 52nd in the 117-boat fleet.
In the Laser Radial competition, two-time Olympian Ali Young came home in seventh. Despite her disappointment, Young vowed to come back stronger when the international fleet converges in Marseille, France, for the World Cup Series final in three weeks.
“It’s been a pretty disappointing week at the Euros,” says Young, 30, from Wolverhampton. “Elements of my racing have been amateur but I’ve got a good support team and I am confident I can get the rest of my season back on track.”
Team mates Georgina Povall and Clementine Thompson finished 25th and 38th, while fellow Brit Hannah Snellgrove was 34th.
This story is from the RYA.