Surbiton’s Nicola Groves and Ben Saxton sail through Nacra 17 preliminaries Olympic debut

Surbiton sailing champion Nicola Groves and partner Ben Saxton made a promising start in the mixed Nacra 17 preliminaries yesterday.

The pair are currently in joint first place with Switzerland on seven points after two thrilling races — in the event that is making its Olympic debut in Rio.

Awful weather in Guanabara Bay created unpredictable racing, with crews heading in all directions to deal with the conditions, resulting with the third race being postponed altogether.

Team GB used the rough conditions to their advantage in race one, using the whole course to find strong winds and finish in third place behind Switzerland and Singapore — with favourites France languishing in 15th place

The Brits made a disastrous start, struggling to clear the starting line and passing the first mark in 18th place

But the duo managed to find the strong winds in the second half of the race and mounted a stunning comeback, picking their way through the field with speed and almost taking off.

Many boats collided at the final mark but Groves and Saxton escaped unscathed to power towards the finish.

They were in a strong position throughout race two which saw them finish in fourth place after a delay for bad weather and a lack of wind.

With the third race postponed it means the British duo currently lead the way with the Swiss team on seven points, with their closest rivals Australia and Argentina on 13 points.

Today’s action will now see four mixed Nacra 17 preliminaries taking place, starting with the postponed third race at 5.05pm.

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