Following on from their victory at the World Cup Final in Santander last month, Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre secured World Championship silver in Thessaloniki, Greece, this week (10-15 July).
A three bullet opening day saw Mills and McIntyre take an early lead, but a challenging week for the pair at only their second regatta together, saw them slip into the silver medal spot on day two and into the medal race finale.
With a 16-point gap to overcome if the pair were to snatch the World title from Polish leaders Agnieszka Skrzypulec and Irmina Mrozek Gliszczynska, it was always going to be a hard fought battle to top the podium. Despite finishing second in the medal race and narrowing the point deficit, it would prove an impossible feat with Mills and McIntyre settling for second.
Whilst Olympic Champion Mills is no stranger to 470 World Championship success having secured gold in 2012 and silver in 2015, for McIntyre this is first World Championship medal.
McIntyre reflected on the week: “It’s really cool. I feel a bit bittersweet – it’s amazing to have medalled at a Worlds but at the same time I really felt like we had it in us to win and we didn’t quite pull it off.
“A few things didn’t quite go our way and we didn’t quite sail well enough but I guess that’s why we love sailing, isn’t it?”
The week was one of learning, continued Mills: “Definitely the intricacies of the close, light wind, tight racing are not quite there yet – you make one tiny error in terms of positioning and you can get punished very, very hard, which happened a couple of times this week in different scenarios.
“But that’s all cool, it’s part of the game isn’t it when you take a break for nine months? What you can and can’t get away with in terms of where you can put the boat [in the light wind racing] you forget a little bit!”
Mills, who has been training in the 49er FX this year, and McIntyre having only trained together briefly are considering their next steps.
“It’s wicked [to medal] considering how little we’ve done together. I’m really excited. Hannah isn’t quite sure what she wants to do yet but I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to sail with her and win two medals with her,” explained McIntyre. “It’s been amazing, and I’ll take the learning forward from this event and improve as a sailor and a 470 crew.”
Mills added: “It was a really cool week and I’m really happy for Eilidh – her first World Championship medal and hopefully the first of many.
“I’m taking things as they come. I’m under no illusion that this is my best option for sure right now. Eilidh is a fantastic sailor and I’m sure we’d be a really, really strong and dominating partnership.
"But I’m also quite aware of myself, and I’m not ready to commit fully to the 470 yet. It still feels a bit too soon since Rio and everything with Sas, and so I think for me to do some other sailing still is going to be really beneficial for the next cycle. I’ll keep it fresh this year.”
British Sailing Team’s 470 crew Elliot Willis who was forced to take a break from sailing in order to undergo cancer treatment, was back out in action coaching Mills and McIntyre.
Mills commented: “Elliot’s awesome. It’s so nice he’s back to his normal self. He’s not quite out of the woods yet but he’s back to his normal self which is great to see, and obviously he’s an awesome person to have out on the water with you. He’s been through it all and has a whole heap of knowledge to dump on us.”
Teammates Amy Seabright and Anna Carpenter also made the medal race cut with four top five results. Crossing the final race in fifth saw the pair wrap up their regatta eighth overall to secure the duo’s best ever World Championship finish.
“A great result also for Amy and Anna – they’ve been training super hard and were awesome with us out in Rio before the Games. It’s super nice to see them coming along and hopefully we can continue the British tradition and work together and try and create something dominating again for Tokyo,” teammate Mills added.
Podium Potential sailors Jess Lavery and Flora Stewart finished 20th at their first World Championships together. Meanwhile Martin Wrigley and James Taylor finished 32nd in the Men’s division and will now aim for the 470 Junior Europeans in Italy next month.
Full results from the 470 World Championships.
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