Hannah Mills: Olympic sailing champion reveals America's Cup dream

Hannah Mills
Hannah Mills shown here celebrating her gold medal with Saskia Clark, also won a silver medal in London

Olympic sailing champion Hannah Mills says she would love to be involved in a future America's Cup.

Sir Ben Ainslie is currently leading the bid to become first British success in the world's oldest sporting event.

When asked whether she would like to be involved in the future, Mills, who won Olympic gold in Rio, said: "Definitely, it's an incredible event and something I have loved watching for many years.

"Along with the Olympics, it's the other pinnacle of our sport.

"I would love to be involved in some way in the future."

Equal opportunities

There are no women in the crews of the six boats in the 2017 America's Cup and Leslie Egnot is the only woman to helm a boat in the event, skippering the all-female crewed Mighty Mary in 1995.

Mills accepts there would need to be a change to enable women to compete in future events with roles becoming more physically demanding.

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Hannah Mills targets fresh Tokyo challenge in 2020 despite considering joining partner Saskia Clark in retirement.

"It's a really interesting discussion topic," said Mills.

"If you look at it in terms of the physicality now, there are four roles on that boat that mean there is absolutely no way genetically a woman could match a man, which you have to accept.

"But the rules of the boat could change a little bit and a few more roles in the crew become a little bit more specifically sailing skills-based. If physicality wasn't the dominant factor, then it could be an option.

"It's like all walks of life with equality and giving people a chance to prove themselves and breaking through that barrier.

"Hopefully in the future, we will get there."

Four times Olympic champion Ainslie is leading the Great Britain charge in his Land Rover BAR boat as they continue their quest to become the first British crew to win the America's Cup which was first staged in 1851.

In his crew is Mills' fellow Welsh competitor Bleddyn Mon.

"It's amazing to see him out there and he has worked so hard to get there," said Mills.

"We know a lot of the guys out there. It's very exciting to watch and if anyone can pull it round, it's Ben for sure."

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Bleddyn Mon on his America's Cup sailing adventure

Changing classes?

Mills, 29. is currently competing in a World Cup Series final event in Santander with Eilidh McIntyre in the 470 discipline which the Welsh woman won Olympic gold in Rio last year with the now retired Saskia Clark.

Mills has been considering switching to the 49erFX event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics but has yet to find a permanent partner.

Mills is planning to compete in the 470 world championships in Greece in July and the 49erFX global equivalent in Portugal at the end of August.

"I hadn't sailed a 470 since the Olympics," said Mills, who was third after the first day in Spain with the medal race on Sunday 11 June.

"A great opportunity came up to sail with Eilidh who was reserve in the Olympics.

"I feel rusty right now. It's just about having fun and seeing whether this is a viable partnership if I am going back into the 470.

"I am keen to do the World Championships with Eilidh next month.

"I am struggling on the crew front in terms of the 49erFX and still looking for a partner.

"This year is just about enjoying the journey with Tokyo being three years away."

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