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Hannah Mills sets her sights on SailGP

Advancing equality in high-performance sailing – one event at a time

With a big part of Kraken’s ethos being breaking barriers, whether it is an ability, financial or physical, it is no surprise that the team is fully behind those breaking barriers of their own.

One such sailor is Hannah Mills, the 2016 Olympic gold medallist who broke into a male-dominated path by earning a place in Ben Ainslie’s SailGP team.

Hannah was the first of six British women who had the chance to train with the team and before the race, was quoted as saying; “ I want to inspire young female sailors to break into this entire world”. As an Olympic medalist and three-time World Champion in the Women’s 470 class, she had already done just that.

Her latest challenge was as the team’s first trialist. Over the course of the first three events of SailGP Season 2 – an eight-leg event that runs from April 2021 to March 2022 – six female athletes will trial with the team, after which a decision will be made on the successful athletes who will join the British team full-time. 

This is part of the Female Development Programme, a new initiative kickstarted by SailGP for the new season which started in Bermuda. It is an initiative that aims to fast-track the inclusion of female athletes into SailGP.

“It’s an incredible opportunity and it’s come at the perfect time for me”, said Hannah. She will be retiring from Olympic sailing this summer after Tokyo, so, earning a spot, would allow her to progress her sailing career beyond the Olympics. Something she believes has not been an option for female sailors thus far.

In an interview with SailGP’s website preceding the trip, she admitted that her competition would be tight;   “I’m really excited to work with the team and learn as much as I can. There are a lot of incredible female sailors in Great Britain, so it will be tough to earn the spot on the team. I am a quick learner and a hard worker so I will try and make the most of the opportunity in front of me. If I am the right person for the job, then that would be awesome.”

According to the SailGP website each team races aboard an F50 catamaran. It is a revolutionary concept in sailing and the culmination of 10 years of development in high-performance, foiling, multihull racing. 

They referred to it as a big technological leap forward from the 470s that Hannah is used to competing in throughout her professional career, but it is one that, needless to say, she could not wait to get to grips with.

Hannah shared her Bermuda experience, including rough seas and action shots, on social media to an audience of fans rooting for her. She started the race excited and grateful for the opportunity.

She shared that she was buzzing to be watching the action live from the coach boat – learning and enjoying every moment of her opportunity. As the festivities ended in celebration Hannah reiterated how incredible it was to be a small part of the trip to Bermuda.