Hannah Mills and crew Saskia Clark light a spark of hope in the Women's 470 class

Saskia Clark

Helmswoman Mills is 23, Clark is 31. Both came from Optimist dinghies as youngsters, both have spent time in 470s, both have experienced the sharp end of the youth sailing scene and both are vibrant, bubbly personalities. Yet the catalyst for this successful new duo also stems from frustration and earlier disappointments.

“I’d like to think that my Olympic and campaign experience is one of the reasons that our partnership works,” says Clark, who went to the 2008 Games in Qingdao, but came away without a medal. After parting company with her former helm Christina Bassadone, she was left without her 2012 partner after two-times Gold medallist Sarah Ayton decided to retire.

“I think that the desperation that Hannah and I both faced earlier this year to make something happen was an important factor,” declares Clark. “Hannah spent two years teaching girls how to crew a 470 which was particularly difficult when she was working with girls outside the [squad] system – it’s a whole big lifestyle change and not just about the sailing.

“It’s been a different set of circumstances this time around. There have always been several boats to compete against and we have both been involved separately throughout this Games cycle and while we are a late campaign, there are also advantages in this.”

There is no doubt that Clark’s knowledge of the boat and what an Olympic campaign entails is an advantage to the pair who seem to be very relaxed in each other’s company.

Clark lives at the very heart of the Olympics and all it entails with her Laser boyfriend Paul Goodison. And while Mills has never been to a Games, her raw talent and enthusiasm provide the perfect foil.

Early ambitions – “The first real job I wanted was to be a journalist. Kate Adie really inspired me as a kid. But from 14 I wanted to go sailing, even though at that stage it wasn’t really a career. Seeing Tracy Edwards’s Maiden finish the 1989 Whitbread made me think that sailing could be a career”

Best/worst quality – ”Being stubborn”

How do you relax?
– “I try to get home to Essex and meet friends and family, but apart from that I’m comfortable with my own company and I like quiet time to myself. The Olympic circuit is a noisy, busy one and it’s good to take time out occasionally”

What picks you up when you’re down? – “I’m lucky that I do have a lot of good people around me with a range of views that help to put situations into perspective”

Non-sailing ambition – “Mountain trekking in Machu Picchu in Peru”

What’s your plan ‘B’?
– “I’ve never really had one. I had two years working in corporate events and I guess I could see myself doing that again”

Pet hate – Parking fines

Sporting hero – David Beckham

Class sailed

Women’s 470

Running a 470 campaign

“Compared with some of the other Olympic classes the 470 is a complex boat. There are so many different ways to set up the boat and these need assessing and testing. Then there are gear breakages and general maintenance to deal with, which all adds up to a lot of time spent working on the boat”

Coach – Steve Lovegrove
Training partners – Penny Clark/Katrina Hughes
First class sailed – Optimist

Track record

2008 – Olympic Games – 6th
2011 – Olympic test event – Silver
2011 – Sail for Gold – Silver
2011 – Hyères regatta – silver
2010 – Kiel Week – Gold
2009 – Sail for Gold – Bronze
2008 – Princes Sofia Trophy – Bronze
2007 – Sail for Gold – Gold

2007 – ISAF Worlds – Bronze
2006 – Princes Sofia Trophy – Gold

Favourite sailing venue – Sydney

Favourite regatta – Princes Sofia, Palma

Current car – Volvo V60i

Dream car – Fiat 500 – an original one

Personal favourites

FilmShawshank Redemption

Band – Kings of Leon

BookThe Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

Non-sailing item – My phone

iPhone app – Wind Guru

iPod top 3 most played

Sex on Fire – Kings of Leon
Crossfire – Brandon Flowers
Dirtee Cash – Dizzee Rascal

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Saskia Clark
  3. 3. Hannah Mills
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