Fresh challenge awaits Mills in bid for Olympic sailing history

Fresh challenge awaits Mills in bid for Olympic sailing history

06 March 2017 / 15:18
Hannah Mills has launched her bid to become Britain's most successful female sailor in unorthodox fashion – by going back to school and attempting history in a new class.

The Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallist has so far found success in the 470 class, joining Saskia Clark atop the podium having reached silver in London four years previous.
But with Clark since retiring following their champion feat, Mills has elected for a new challenge of her own, gearing up for Tokyo 2020 by trying her hand at the 49erFX.
It's a challenge set to be far from straightforward for the 29-year-old, leaving the comforts from a tight and tactical vessel to a fast and furious competition, all while dealing with a new crew in the skiff-type racing.
And with the 49erFX also in its infancy having debuted in Rio, Mills is relishing the chance to show what she is made of outside of her comfort zone, both to herself and the wider world.
"The FX to me just presents such a new and exciting shift.  Every day I go sailing I'm scared, I'm excited, I'm laughing so much!" said Mills.
"For me it was about finding the love of sailing again.  It's an amazing sport, I love the 470 and the racing is awesome. 
"But having done something for ten years, at some point in time I think you have to step away.  And I didn't want to step away and not sail.  I wanted to step away and still sail. 
"It definitely took a bit of time to reach that decision. Certainly before Rio, I thought that that would be it.  I knew that Sas was going to retire and obviously I hoped that we would achieve what we wanted to achieve [before that]. 
"The last six months of a campaign are so all-encompassing and exhausting going into a Games.  It's just absolutely everything and so you think in that moment that you can't do that again for another four years."
A silver in Tokyo would see Mills become Britain's most successful female sailor, while she could also be set to top the women's global medal table in the sport.
It's a venture she will be undertaking with Alain Sign, part of an experienced crew who competed alongside Dylan Fletcher in the 49er, a similar event to the FX, over the past decade.
While they cannot compete together at Games and other World Sailing events, the pair will take to the waters in the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma next month.

And with a chance to be considered among the world's best – if she wasn't already – Mills believes she has an extra bit of motivation, much needed with plenty of work required prior to Tokyo.
"It's a big challenge, that's for sure. I'm not deluded that I'm going to step into the FX and everything will be rosy!  But I think that challenge is really positive for me," added the Cardiff-based sailor.
"I'm super motivated to go sailing, to get fit and strong and heavy.  With the FX being a bigger boat, I'm going to need to put on some weight which is a challenge in itself as I'm quite a tiny person!  I'll need to put on about ten percent of my body weight, which is quite a lot."
Sportsbeat 2017

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