Hannah Diamond: Now part of Team Volvo

Hannah Diamond: Now part of Team Volvo

Wednesday February 19 2014 Author: Hannah Diamond Location: none selected

 Transport is a huge thing for campaigning sailors. We drive all over Europe, often 12-13 hour journeys and through the night, to get our boats to the different training and competition venues. And as well as the expense of running that sort of logistical operation, when things go wrong you have to sort it out and pay for it yourself too.
For the first year of our campaign we relied on Ben’s own van to get us, and our boats, around. Having Volvo’s support will make a huge difference because it takes the pressure off if something does go wrong and it’s super comfortable too!

For someone who gets really travel sick, and who, when I first started campaigning, used to dread doing long journeys as a passenger in the back of vans, not being able to see out of the front window and feeling horrendous, this is a godsend!

We’re in Lagos, Portugal for a week-long training camp at the moment. We’ve spent quite a bit of time on and off over here training since November. It’s somewhere our coach, Maurice Van Paardenkooper, knows from his time working with the Dutch Yngling programmme. It’s a reliable venue where we can sail pretty much everyday, there’s rarely too much or too little breeze and it’s got a good range of conditions.

The aim for this week is to take full advantage of that and get back into sailing in wavier conditions. Miami was really flat and during the regatta there wasn’t much breeze so it’s good to get something more varied, with the plan to hopefully get some good speed work in with the rest of the squad later this week.

To get bronze in Miami and start the season with a good result was such a confidence boost. We hadn’t raced since the EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup event in La Rochelle in early October, and everyone’s been away training over the winter so we didn’t have a clue what to expect when we all came together and raced again.

Everyone was sailing so differently, and the racing was a lot closer than last year. Mistakes were punished quicker and you had to be cleaner with your boat handling too. We didn’t want to go back to square one again, so to have been able to stay on top of all the progress the fleet has made and get a medal was a good start to 2014.

It’s really cool to be part of a developing class like this. There’s so much experience in the class. For us to be racing against, and managing to beat, legends like Volvo Ocean Race winner, Frank Cammas, 49er Olympic gold and silver medalist, Iker Martínez, and two-time Tornado silver medalist and America’s Cup sailor, Darren Bundock, is incredible experience and a great learning opportunity for us.

People always have a lot of questions about sailing in a mixed class and want to know what it’s like sailing with a boy. But having been in the class for a year now, I honestly find it strange it hasn’t been done before. I thought there would be more differences than there are, but it’s just the typical considerations you would take into account in any partnership, there’s nothing special. It feels very normal now.

I’ve known Ben since we were 10 years old racing Oppies. I’m six months older than him but we’re the same sailing age and came up through the junior and youth squads at the same time. We first sailed together in 2002 as part of the winning team at the UK Junior Team Racing Championships.

We’ve raced against and with each other so many times over the last 14 years that we knew what each other’s strengths were, and we thought those strengths could complement each other in the Nacra. We both have a good feel in the boat and adapt to things quite well, and we’re as competitive as each other. We never have to question if the other is giving 100% or their desire to win because we know they are.

The things we saw in each other that we thought could make us a good partnership have been proved so far. But this is nothing to do with being male and female, these are things any partnerships would look at when thinking about doing a campaign.

It’s great racing in the mixed class and very exciting being part of something new that is growing and developing all the time.

Our next event is the ISAF World Cup Mallorca, in Palma at the end of March. We have another week’s training camp planned in Lagos ahead of that, and then we will head out to Palma about two weeks before the regatta. We think we can get a lot more hours on the water, and a lot of work done, in Lagos, which is exciting.

It is even better knowing that we will be doing it supported by Volvo!


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