DESPITE narrowly missing out on the Olympics this summer, Devon sailor Ben Flower didn’t let the bad circumstances get the better of him, medalling at the Europa Cup in Switzerland a few weeks after the Olympic trials had concluded.

An ILCA Olympic campaigner for the past 8 years, Flower has won 13 national championship titles across several sailing classes; however, international victories have eluded him.

The end of June into the start of July saw the opportunity for European success with two European Championships in the RS Aero & D-Zero classes, along with the National Championships for the latter.

Flower set his eyes on sealing victory through one of these Championships, travelling to Carnac, France with fellow Paignton SC team member Mark Ripley.

He got off to the perfect start winning both races on the opening day and taking a three-point lead heading into day two.

Second-placed Peter Barton put up a fight on day two, taking victory in the first two races and Flower was even disqualified from race four. Wins in races five and six saw the latest turn of the pendulum go in favour of the Newton Abbot resident.

Ripley meanwhile was staying consistent and placed fifth overall and first youth (under 23).

The leading duo won a race apiece and so Flower retained his lead heading into the final day whilst Ripley still had an outside chance of claiming a podium spot.

Unfortunately for some, racing was abandoned on the final day of racing due to insufficient wind, meaning that Flower was able to walk away with his first international victory and was joined in success by Ripley, in receiving Youth European Champion status in the Aero class.

Ben Flower on the podium
Ben Flower on the podium (Contributed)

Two days later, Flower was back in action again, this time at the jointly held D-Zero National & European Championships in Portland, England.

Flower was able to get straight individual race wins in dominant fashion over the first two days and held a commanding lead from the chasing pack.

The third day of racing saw lighter winds and with the final day forecast to be the most difficult, a fourth race was added to the penultimate day.

Over the four races, Ben was able to share the honours with Scotland’s Roo Purves, both getting two wins and two second-place finishes across the four races. This then resulted in Flower being in the rare position of winning both the D-Zero National & European Championships with a day to spare. Flower had the luxury of taking the final day off from racing to have a much-needed rest.

For both South Devon sailors, Flower and Ripley the next major event is the Aero World Championships at the end of August with Ripley also competing in the Youth World Championships a couple weeks prior in Sweden.