West Wales sailor Michael Beckett has scored his best ever performance at senior level, winning the silver medal at a breezy Laser European Championships in La Rochelle.
The British Sailing Team member, 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 said. “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 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 added.
“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.
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,” said 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 North Wales sailor Daniel Whitely 52nd in the 117-boat fleet.
Full results from the regatta can be found here.