Please select your home edition
Edition
Zhik Dinghy Wetsuits

The return of 470 sailor Hannah Mills

by Lindsey Bell on 26 Jul 2013
Saskia Clark and Hannah Mills (GBR) winner of the Silver Medal in the Womens 470 Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz
Throughout the week, as we advance towards the anniversary of the 2012 Olympic Games on 27 July, we’ll hear from members of the 2012 British Sailing Team who reflect on their own Games experiences, how they themselves were inspired by 2012, and on life and sailing since the London Olympic flame went out and the focus switched to Rio 2016. Cardiff’s Hannah Mills won silver at her first Olympic Games in London, competing with Saskia Clark in the 470 women’s event.

Since London, she’s taken time out of the sport, returning to Olympic Classes sailing only this month as she and Clark prepare for their World Championships in August as a first step back on the Road to Rio:

In some elements it feels like the Games was only yesterday and in some elements it feels like it was literally forever ago – it’s quite a bizarre thing to think back at, but now here we are a year on!

It was amazing to see the aftermath and how the country reacted to the Olympics, how it really did inspire everybody and how happy everyone was during and after it. When you’re involved in it and you’re competing you don’t get to really appreciate that. It was only afterwards that we could really get a vibe for how that was going. That was the most overwhelming thing for me.

I was lucky enough that my schedule meant to I could go to the Opening Ceremony in London, and that was incredible. I’m so glad we had the opportunity to do that, you’ll never experience anything like it again. I can’t even begin to describe what that it felt like walking into the stadium, it was just amazing.

Weymouth and Portland put on a great show for the Olympics and for sailing. We had huge local support as well as our own supporters who had travelled in for a couple of weeks. In our own little cocoon in Weymouth there was an amazing buzz and everyone was super excited and really got behind us. It was pretty incredible.

The medal race on the Nothe course was my best memory – not so much the race, but more the spectators. My whole family and friends had these yellow dusters that they were waving so I could see where they were in amongst everyone. I could spot a massive bunch of them and that was amazing. There was no other significance to yellow dusters, I’m really not a clean freak or anything! I was purely so they could be spotted easily!

At the time I was disappointed with silver, having been so close to gold, but now I definitely have taken on board what we achieved. It was wicked and as a kid that’s what you dream of, so it’s incredible to have won a silver medal. I’m still disappointed that we didn’t manage the gold though, and I think that’s something that will probably stay with you forever, the disappointment that it didn’t quite work out. Hopefully this time around we can put that right.


Sailing’s such a tricky sport to get right and sometimes it doesn’t quite go your way, so you have to try and get over it and move on. That’s part of my motivation for Rio – that and the fact we have more time this time round. We can just cover more areas and make sure we’re slightly more thorough with everything we do in the build-up and hopefully get that slightly tweaked. I love the sport, I love the Olympics and am really excited to be sailing with Sas again and to try and win in Rio.

I visited Rio at the end of last year, and it is quite a bizarre place. At first I was a bit overwhelmed by it all, and when I first got there I thought it was a bit of a crazy city with such an obvious rich-poor divide. I’d never been to a country like that before. After a few days I’d got totally settled and actually loved it, I thought it was amazing place with so much to do and see. I think if they sort themselves out and get a bit organised it could be an incredible Games and definitely one that will go down as a good one.

Sas and I had a bit of time out after the Games – first of all we were just exhausted, it’s just so full on and relentless. We both wanted some time out for us to decide whether it was the right thing for us to carry on, both individually and then together. Rather than make a decision in the heat of the moment, we wanted time to make a calculated decision on that.

Also we wanted to experience different things. I did a lot of different types of sailing which was amazing. It’s such a diverse sport and there are so many different things you can go and try. I went and did some Extreme 40 sailing, which is a 40 foot catamaran and is really, really quick. The racing is short and intense – eight boats in a tiny little area and 10-15 minute racing. It was pretty epic but great fun, and very different to a 470! It’s great to learn something different and experience something different. That’s what brought me to Rio so that was quite cool. I had a go in the other new Olympic boats as well, the 49erFX and the Nacra. I always knew that I’d stay in the 470 but they’re new boats so it was fun to give them a try.

The Games effect has been huge, and still is. I go into schools now and everyone still remembers it like it was yesterday. The kids are massively over-excited about it all, especially when you take your medal. They love it and you can’t get away! I think it’s encouraged people to be active, to do things and try things – and it’s especially good for parents of kids to see such a positive effect that it has on kids to be active and doing stuff. From the kids’ side it’s great for them to have something to channel that crazy energy that kids have, to do something active with it, and try and do well at it.

I’m really excited to be getting back in the boat with Sas again. Before we could even go sailing we had to do three days of arranging our kit, sorting it all out. We just had so much stuff to deal with before we could even go on the water, and then we had to pack our kit ready for the Worlds in La Rochelle. Kit packing, loading and unloading the boats is never the glamorous part of our sport but it has to be done!

We’ve finished our first two weeks of training camps which were great fun. I was a bit nervous actually, because I hadn’t sailed in the 470 for 10 months so I was a bit like ‘what if I don’t like it any more, or it’s boring…?!’. But it was wicked, and I’m really excited to get racing again.

We have thrown ourselves in at the deep end with our World Championships being the first event back. We’ve given ourselves a bit on as defending World Champions, but I think that’s the right thing for us and actually I think it will be a really good marker for where the fleet are and where we are, so it will be a good first British Sailing Team website

Ancasta Ker 40+ 660x82Zhik ZKG 660x82Wildwind 2016 660x82

Related Articles

German cycling great gets to ride in 16ft skiffs
Voight was a guest aboard leading Manly skiff Fluid Building after accepting an invite from skipper Clint Bowen. Jens Voight has twice won stages of the Tour de France and once held the world record time for distance ridden in an hour, but nothing prepared him for jumping on a 16ft skiff last Saturday. Voight was a guest aboard leading Manly skiff Fluid Building after accepting an invite from skipper Clint Bowen.
Posted today at 4:15 am
OK Dinghy World Ranking List – No change at top
European Champion, Bo Petersen (DEN) continues to lead from Thomas Hansson-Mild (SWE) and Greg Wilcox (NZL). For the first time in the history of the OK Dinghy World Ranking List, not only are the top three three unchanged, but the entire top 20 of the March 2017 release are unchanged from the previous release.
Posted on 23 Mar
Preparations start for the XXXI edition of Trofeo Marco Rizzotti
Spring is nearly here and in Venice 'Rizzoni time' is approaching - Intl team race regatta for young Optimist sailors Spring is nearly here and in Venice “Rizzoni time” is approaching - the international team race regatta for young Optimist sailors (10-15 years old) organized by Diporto Velico Veneziano and Compagnia della Vela from 18-21 May.
Posted on 21 Mar
Winds of change at the Princesa Sofia IBEROSTAR
634 boats, 842 sailors from 53 nations will participate in the different Olympic classes, according to confirmed entries Around 700 boats will participate in this edition of the Majorcan regatta, which kicks off on Friday 24 for ORC, J80 and Dragon (with three racing days until Sunday) and on Monday 27 for Olympic Classes.
Posted on 20 Mar
'Rock n' Roll' is king at Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta in San Diego
Thirteen individual class winners took home first-place trophies at the culmination of the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta Thirteen individual class winners took home first-place trophies at the culmination of the Helly Hansen National Offshore One Design (NOOD) Regatta San Diego on Sunday, but only one was crowned Overall Winner – skipper Argyle Campbell, of Newport Beach, Calif.
Posted on 20 Mar
Singapore Youth Sailing Championship - Day 3
Lu Junrui suffered a slight blimp in his quest for the Singapore Youth Sailing Championship Laser Radial title Singapore’s Lu Junrui suffered a slight blimp in his quest for the Singapore Youth Sailing Championship Laser Radial title but recovered in his final race. He is on course to claim the 2017 crown.
Posted on 18 Mar
Paving the Way for Paralympic Sailing
The second Paralympic Development Program wrapped up in Hong Kong this week 'Some day I will retire, but I will have a fleet of sailors behind me who will carry on the work!' Philippines sailor Cherrie Pinpin is a determined woman! As one of nine sailors and five coaches to have just completed World Sailing's first ever Asian Paralympic Development Program (PDP) clinic, Pinpin is even more resolute about spreading the word on sailing both at home and across Asia.
Posted on 15 Mar
Finn Class to test new format at Trofeo Princesa Sofia IBEROSTAR
This is in response to discussions that the winner should be decided on the final race, or even first across the line. The format that will be used in Palma is one of several on the table and will allow the class and World Sailing to better understand the consequences and processes of introducing such a system.
Posted on 13 Mar
Entry open for RS Aero World Championship in Carnac
Within the first two days of entry opening, 25 entries from five counties and two continents had jumped onto entry list. Within the first two days of entry opening for the Carnac Worlds, twenty five entries from five counties and two continents had jumped onto entry list. This has since increased to seven countries and three continents. The RS Aero is proving a big hit across America and seven keen owners have already signed up.
Posted on 9 Mar
JJ Giltinan 18fters - Van Munster 'magic' turns around damaged Lumix
Lumix 18ft Skiff hull was badly damaged during a racing incident in race one of the recent 2017 JJ Giltinan Championship When the Lumix 18ft Skiff hull was badly damaged during a racing incident in race one of the recent 2017 JJ Giltinan Championship, sponsored by The Winning Group, on Sydney Harbour, it looked as though the young team who were sailing the hull would have to use a borrowed hull for the remainder of the seven race regatta.
Posted on 6 Mar