Golden girl Mills to headline GB’s World Championships team

Rio 2016 gold medallist Hannah Mills will headline Great Britain’s team of elite sailors heading into battle at the crucial Sailing World Championships, the biggest test so far of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic cycle.

Mills and her crew Eilidh McIntyre will top a stellar British line-up including Olympic medallists and world and European champions, plus a host of talented newcomers, at the ten-day regatta in Aarhus, Denmark.

The 66-strong squad that will take on the world’s best sailors from 2-12 August was revealed by British Sailing Team boss Mark Robinson today, exactly two years before the eve of the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony.

Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre. ©Lloyd Images

The announcement also marks the launch of the British Sailing Team’s revamped website www.britishsailingteam.com, and its new #RuleTheWaves social media campaign.

The quadrennial Sailing World Championships will be contested by 1,125 sailors from 83 countries – and is the most crucial date in this season’s calendar.

It the combined world championships for all ten Olympic classes and therefore a major indicator of performance in the run-up to Tokyo 2020, at which British sailors will aim to top the medal table for the fifth time in six Games.

However it is also the first opportunity for countries to qualify for places in each of the classes at for Tokyo 2020.

Dylan Fletcher Stuart Bithell

Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell. ©Lloyd Images

Among those joining women’s 470 duo Mills and McIntyre will be reigning 49er world champions Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell, along with foiling Nacra 17 world champion Ben Saxton and new crew Nicola Boniface.

In the men’s 470 fleet, London 2012 silver medallist Luke Patience will be on the start line with crew Chris Grube looking to build on their impressive start to the 2018 season.

A packed Laser Standard entry will see Rio 2016 Olympian and two-time world champion Nick Thompson compete alongside European silver medallist Michael Beckett and Elliot Hanson, who has won three international medals since returning from injury in May.

In the 49er FX, recent European bronze medallists Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth will race alongside Medemblik Regatta gold medallists Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey.

European Finn class champion Ed Wright will be among those on the start line, although Rio 2016 gold medallist Giles Scott has opted not to compete in order to focus his training on the first Olympic test event in September.

Bryony Shaw

Bryony Shaw. ©Lloyd Images

The team’s opening ceremony flagbearer will be Bryony Shaw, a veteran British Sailing Team member and Beijing 2008 bronze medallist who returned to competition earlier this year following the birth of her son Jaddek in June 2017.

The full team list can be found here.

“The 2018 Sailing World Championships marks the start of our main run into the Tokyo 2020 Olympics,” said Robinson, the RYA’s Olympic Performance Manager.

“We have an immense depth of talent including many Olympic, World and European champions competing but also many up and coming sailors who I’m sure will make their mark in Aarhus, so we are in a strong position at this point in the Olympic cycle.

“With the first round of country Olympic qualification places on the line this is an important event for Great Britain to qualify all ten classes so that we can move on to perfecting our skills and processes over the coming two years to ultimately peak at the Games in Japan.”

Eighteen British sailors who are not currently part of the British Sailing Team will also be in action in Aarhus.

Kite boarding will make its Sailing World Championships debut ahead of its proposed inclusion in the Paris 2024 Games, with Connor Bainbridge, brothers Guy and Olly Bridge and their mother Steph Bridge representing Great Britain.

Guy Bridge was recently crowned the Formula Kite European champion, while Olly Bridge took second. Steph Bridge is a five-time kite race world champion, while Connor Bainbridge competes on the 2018 Hydrofoil Pro Tour.

Racing at the Sailing World Championships begins on August 2 and runs until August 12. The schedule of racing can be downloaded here.