Please select your home edition
Edition
Craftinsure 2021 - LEADERBOARD
Product Feature
Seldén BBB20 20 CHEEK BLOCK
Seldén BBB20 20 CHEEK BLOCK

Mills and McIntyre set for historic world title defence in Tokyo countdown

by British Sailing Team 5 Mar 14:15 GMT
Mills and McIntyre crowned champions at the Yamaha 470 World Championships, Enoshima, Japan © Junichi Hirai / Bulkhead Magazine Japan

Team GB sailors Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre will launch their bid to retain their 470 World Championship title next week as they prepare to compete for the first time in more than a year.

The duo last saw international action in August 2019 at the Olympic test event held at the Tokyo 2020 sailing venue of Enoshima.

Mills and McIntyre claimed silver, just a fortnight after securing their first world crown together on the same waters.

The string of successes were meant to set them up perfectly for a tilt at Olympic gold the following summer - but since then the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented any 470 racing from taking place.

While Mills and McIntyre have been able to train in the UK at the British Sailing Team's world class base in Weymouth and Portland, as well as a handful of training blocks in Lanzarote, they have lacked contact time with their most fierce competition.

The World Championships, starting on Monday in Vilamoura, Portugal, will provide a crucial chance to benchmark performance in the critical run-in to the Games after what has been the most challenging of years.

"With only five months to go until the Olympic Games, this regatta is a huge opportunity for us," said Mills, from Cardiff.

"It will be the first event in over 18 months where we will have pressure to perform and those experiences in the build-up to the Games are crucial.

"The event is a little different to other pre-Olympic World Champs because we don't know as much about our competitors as we normally would. Many we haven't seen or raced against for over a year! As much as it is about us and our performance, it's also about evaluating everyone else and where there have been any gains that we haven't necessarily predicted, or new teams emerging who could now be a new rival at the Games.

"Regardless of how perfect or imperfect our preparation will be for this event, we are in a place where we can definitely test our ability to perform under pressure and we will be doing everything we can to do that and try and retain our world title. Win or lose, will really lead our focus and direction between now and the Games."

In the men's fleet, Tokyo 2020 picks Luke Patience and Chris Grube go up against their rivals in a heavily contested fleet that will also include fellow Brits Martin Wrigley and Alex Hughes.

Meanwhile a host of British crews will be looking to make their mark in the mixed fleet, the new format for the 470 class for Paris 2024.

Competition will be high to claim the first mixed world title. Among those angling for glory will be the pairs of Amy Seabright/James Taylor, Vita Heathcote/Ryan Orr, Georgina Povall/Arran Holman, and Freya Black/Marcus Tressler.

Just a day later at the same venue, windsurfers Tom Squires and Emma Wilson will mark their returns to racing at the RS:X European Championships.

The RS:X class fared better than the 470s in 2020, managing to get a World Championships in before the pandemic struck. A European Championships was then held late in November before tighter restrictions were reintroduced across the continent.

Both athletes are aware the five-day regatta could be their only chance to compete against their rivals ahead of Tokyo 2020.

"There is adversity everywhere, plans are changing all the time with regards to competition and training and staying safe in a changeable and challenging environment," said Squires, from Oxford.

"From one day to the next you can see your World Championship dates change, venue changes or be all-together cancelled, so to secure this key event just a few months before the Olympics Games is critical for my performance.

"Although this is a European Championships, it is an 'open event' allowing everyone from across the world to participate. This including the selected sailors from as far as Japan and New Zealand. It will be a good representation of my current standing and show my strengths and weaknesses against the best."

Wilson, from Christchurch, Dorset, added: "I'm so excited to being able to race again - we never know when we will get another regatta before Tokyo so for me it's all about appreciating how lucky we are as athletes and making the most of the opportunity. I've spent all winter out here in Vilamoura training with a nice group of girls which has been really fun and productive. The level should be really high with only a few people not racing. It will be hard work but good fun."

Follow the two events via the British Sailing Team's social media channels.

Related Articles

Crunch time for Finn champ Scott
Reigning Olympic champion had his campaign on hold for six months Giles Scott says the Finn European Championships will provide a crucial performance benchmark as he returns to the Olympic circuit fresh from the America's Cup. Posted on 12 Apr
Masterman joins campaign for women's sport
Teaming up with a host of sports stars for the 'Unlocked' programme The British Sailing Team's Alice Masterman has joined forces with more than 30 British elite female athletes to tackle diversity in sport head on as part of a unique programme created by the Women's Sport Trust. Posted on 7 Apr
Seabright & Taylor claim mixed 470 Worlds bronze
Notching up five top-five finishes on their way to securing their podium spot Amy Seabright and James Taylor won bronze in the first ever mixed 470 World Championships - as Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre narrowly missed out on a podium spot following an epic comeback in the women's fleet. Posted on 14 Mar
Hunt for GB mixed offshore pairs commences
Interest has been growing in mixed doublehanded offshore racing since 2019 The RYA has launched its search to find sailors to represent Great Britain at the 2021 Offshore Mixed Doubles European and World Championships. Posted on 22 Jan
BST response to UK Sport funding announcement
£352 million investment in Olympic and Paralympic sport The British Sailing Team welcomes Friday's announcement from UK Sport outlining a £352 million investment in Olympic and Paralympic sport. Posted on 19 Dec 2020
Emma Wilson vows to come back stronger
After RS:X Euros heartbreak Team GB windsurfer Emma Wilson has vowed to bounce back after falling out of contention for a medal at the RS:X European Championships in the final race. Posted on 29 Nov 2020
Kite foilers scoop UK Sport elite sport award
In recognition of their success over the past two years The British Sailing Team's kite foil racers have won a prestigious UK Sport award in recognition of their success over the past two years. Posted on 18 Nov 2020
Team GB windsurfers return to RS:X action
The last major regatta for the British duo was back in February Team GB selected windsurfers Emma Wilson and Tom Squires will return to RS:X action this week at the European Championships in Vilamoura, Portugal, from 22-28 November following an eight-month break in major competition for the class. Posted on 16 Nov 2020
Winners crowned at RYA Match Racing Nationals
A windy event at Queen Mary Sailing Club The last Friday of October was chosen as the new start day for the RYA National Match Racing Championship Grand Final. An event typically dogged by light winds, that would not be an issue this year. Posted on 3 Nov 2020
Windfoilers wow at first ever iQFoil Worlds
Britain's elite windsurfers proved their strength in depth with an impressive show Less than a year since the iQFoil was announced as the equipment of choice for windfoiling's debut at the Paris 2024 Olympics, a 19-strong British contingent headed to Italy's Lake Garda to see how they shaped up against the rest of the world. Posted on 26 Oct 2020