Great Britain’s Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark have been crowned the first ever British World Champions in the 470 women’s class in Barcelona.
Mills and Clark, who claimed silver at the 2011 World Championships in Perth in December, fought back from a difficult start to the week with a first race disqualification to claim the world title after a nail-biting final medal race.
The Skandia Team GBR duo could take no risks after a suffering a black flag penalty for being over the startline early in the very first race of the 13-race regatta.
They managed to hold their nerve through a range of conditions during the week to gradually climb the leaderboard and end up in the top spot heading into the final day, but perilously close on points with three other boats and with gold or no medal a possibility.
Mills and Clark finished Saturday’s medal race third and kept their closest Dutch rivals Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout behind them to secure the world title.
Mills said afterwards, “Thank god! It’s been a long week – a day longer than our events usually are, and made to feel even longer when we got our black flag right at the start, so there was no real room for error after that.
“It was really cool to cross the finish line and know we had done enough – I don’t think it has really sunk in yet for me but Sas is super happy, she’s so excited.
“We knew we had the potential to win here, and it’s a huge thing to be World Champion but at the same time I can’t stop thinking about this summer and the Olympics which is what this year is really about for us.
“We’ve learnt a whole lot this week, on how we need to sail to win, our strengths and weaknesses and about staying consistent and we’ve sailed a really, really solid week.”
RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park said “It’s a fantastic result. Hannah and Saskia have made steady progress to put them in a position where they were able to maintain their confidence after a disappointing Palma World Cup event, and go on to win the World Championship even in the face of a black flag in their first race of the regatta.
“Now everything will be focussed on delivering at the Games Weymouth, but they should definitely take a moment to reflect on what they have achieved in becoming Britain’s first women’s 470 World Champions.”
Lizzie Flint, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine