by Emma Slater
London Olympics 2012 Sailing Competition - Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark have won Olympic 470 Women’s silver at Weymouth and Portland today (Friday 10 August) – Great Britain’s fifth sailing medal of London 2012.
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR) competing in the Women’s Two Person Dinghy (470) event in The London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.
The medal is an Olympic first for the pair with Mills making her Olympic debut at these Games and Clark having finished sixth at Beijing 2008.
The girls went into the medal race having definitely secured a medal and guaranteed at least silver if they could simply sail a clean race and not get disqualified. But tied neck-and-neck at the top of the leaderboard on 33 points with Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie (NZL) gold was still in the Brits’ sights.
Mills and Clark appeared to get the better start of the two boats as they slipped out towards the left of the course. But although being slower off the startline the Kiwis were able to tack away to the right, get clear air and take advantage of a big wind shift. With the Brits caught in a pack, Mills and Clark weren’t able to turn and try to follow the Kiwis over to the favoured side of the course.
In ever-lightening breeze the Brits ended up stranded on the left-hand side of the course hoping the wind would shift in their favour but that shift never came and as New Zealand managed to extend their lead throughout the race, Mills and Clark were left trying to pick their way through the fleet in the hope that what little wind there was may still swing in their favour. A shortening of the course did little to boost the Brits’ chances of turning things around and with New Zealand winning the race it was silver for Great Britain.
Speaking immediately after the race, Clark said: 'We just feel a bit gutted at the moment; we didn’t even put a good show on really. We had the Kiwis on the start line and we let them go to the right and we were wedged in with a few boats and didn’t follow them out there. Halfway up the beat we knew the gold medal was gone from us.'
Mills said: 'The wind was tricky. We felt like the left had better breeze, which is why we wanted to get the left, but a 20 degree right wind shift came in, the wind died [on the left] and that was game over. We’re pretty gutted to be honest but we’ve had a wicked 18 months together. Sas is amazing and we’ve had a great time.'
Clark added: 'Hannah’s an absolute legend, we’ve had a wicked 18 months. When we started sailing together 18 months ago we put everything in to try to qualify for the team. At that point in time we weren’t even thinking about a medal it was just about qualifying. So to come away with a medal together, we’ve had a wicked time.'
The 470 Women’s medal follows Ben Ainslie’s Finn gold and Iain Percy / Andrew Simpson’s Star silver on Sunday, Nick Dempsey’s RS:X Windsurfing silver on Tuesday and Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell’s 470 Men’s silver earlier today.
RYA London Olympics website