In this month’s British Sailing Team column, Hannah Mills celebrates a medal-winning end to her 470 regatta season with Saskia Clark.
A silver medal at our recent World Championships in Haifa was a great way to round off our competition season, and Saskia and I will head into 2016 – the Olympic year – in a good position and excited about the opportunities ahead.
Having never been to Israel before, we had no idea what to expect from Haifa as a venue, but the people were so friendly and the sailing, certainly in the build up, was amazing in some of the warmest waters we had ever sailed in. As World Championship venues go, it was a pretty cool place!
The Worlds was important for many teams who were and are still in the process of trying to qualify themselves or their countries for the Rio Games. For Sas and I that was not a factor, having already had our selection confirmed in September, but we still wanted to do well and we knew the event would be tough with everyone looking to peak.
We started the event strongly, comfortable and confident with our speed and decision making. Two days before the end of the regatta, we had taken hold of the yellow jerseys with a narrow lead over the Austrian defending World Champions Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar.
We were well placed, but unfortunately had a disappointing final fleet racing day. We struggled with our starts and our first beat decisions, which had otherwise been going well throughout the week. That led to the Austrian girls taking an 18 point lead into the final medal race.
We were assured of a podium finish going into the medal race, which was some consolation, and while gold was not out of the question, it was a long shot to try and overturn the Austrian girls.
We gave it a great shot and at one point we were in gold medal position with us leading and them right at the back. However they pulled through to fourth so we had to settle for silver, albeit with a medal race win to round off the event on a high note.
Overall, Sas and I had an amazing World Championship and sailed really, really well other than a couple of little things. We can really build on that over the winter and hopefully come back a little bit stronger next year.
We will have a little bit of time off in November and then it is back to Rio before Christmas before building up for another World Championships in February.
NINE MONTHS TO GO
These last nine months to the Rio Games are going to go super quick and it feels like we have so much to do still. But it is a nice place to be and it is nice to not wish that the Games were next week and you have always got more you can improve on.
A lot of the remaining time will be about equipment final touches and making sure we have got the best kit that we can possibly can for Rio and for us. We still think we have got some improvements to be made there and some speed gains to be had, so that is quite exciting. We will be looking to spend as much time as possible in Rio with a small, good quality fleet so we can learn as much about the venue as possible.
We are sailing well, but we feel we have still got some big gains to come and we are looking forward to it!
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