by Saskia Clark
Now that the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta has come to a close, Saskia Clark is reflecting on the silver medal victory that she achieved with Hannah Mills in the Olympic test event.
Mills and Clark in action
Hannah and I have had a lot of lovely comments and congratulations since winning silver at the Olympic Test Event and although the disappointment has slightly faded it still would have been nice to have won…
Three points separated us and the Japanese girls at the end and the distance between gold and silver was about 10 metres in the medal race. In the pre start we were circling the committee boat chasing the Japanese, with about 40 seconds to go the Japanese went for another circle, we decided not to follow as we didn’t think there was enough time to do that and still get a good start, as we had to keep an eye out for the Dutch. We started in the middle and they started at the boat and immediately tacked. From that initial separation they got in the first cross and we could never quite get back to them.
When Hannah and I paired up in February our goal was to qualify for the Test Event. We did that by winning silver at Skandia Sail for Gold. By winning silver at the Test Event we have surpassed our expectations for this season.
However I also know from the last Olympic cycle this season means nothing in the grand scheme of things so there is no way we can sit and pat ourselves on the back at what we’ve done this year however much we’ve outperformed our goals.
Mills and Clark - Silver again in Weymouth
Because of the strength in depth some countries have in the 470 fleet, the top ten was actually weaker than the top tens at some of the other Grade 1 regattas.
But the medallists from Beijing 2008 are all still around, albeit sailing in different combinations, and the experienced crews amongst the fleet will know they can pick and choose which events they bring their A game to and which events they might just be using as warm ups. I think it’s safe to assume everyone will think they’ve got a lot more still to come before the Olympics.
The Test Event is a really important event for everyone in terms of the lessons that need to be learned before the Olympics, so it was a really valuable experience for us as a team. It was Hannah’s first experience of being in the locked down British team environment.
We live together as a team, we are very lucky as we get all our meals cooked and have all the sports science expertise and experience immediately to hand at all times in the build up to and throughout the event until everyone has finished. Some people can find that exciting, a bit daunting or unusual but it is important to get used to it, Hannah took it all in her stride like an absolute pro as I guessed she probably would.
We’re back in training on the 1st September and our focus becomes the ISAF World Championships in Perth in December. Our selection process is ongoing so, regardless of what we’ve achieved this season, we know we have to go out there and prove ourselves again against the other girls so we’ll be going there to nail it!
In the meantime I’m enjoying a bit of time off back home in Essex. I took part in Mersea Week with some friends in a classic Mersea Winklebrig, a type of old fishing working boat unique to the area. It was great fun racing against old friends and catching up with everyone after sailing.
It’s also my birthday today and my boyfriend Paul (Goodison) promised me a surprise so I’m looking forward to a lovely day out!
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