Hannah Mills gives Britain it's best ever result at the Optimist World Championships

Hannah Mills has bettered any previous British result at the Optimist World Championship by finishing in fifth place overall and being crowned Girls World Champion at the Optimist World Championships, in Gran Canaria.

She has bettered the previous best result held by Paul Campbell-James, who finished eighth in 1997 and Olympic Gold Medallist and Team Volvo for life member Ben Ainslie performance in 1992 who only managed 37th overall.

A total of 221 sailors from 49 countries were competing for the title of Optimist World Champion, in the fifteen race series from the 22July to the 2 August 2003.

Day one and two of the event saw another British sailor at the top of the leader board. Lymington’s Greg Carey scored a first and second place on day one and 1,8,10 on day two to lead overall. This was another first – the first time a British sailor has lead the Optimist World Championships for two days.

Conditions were testing on day three of the event with the 10-17 knot wind shifting randomly on the final windward leg, causing many of the leading pack to lose ten places.

Greg Carey showed the first two days results had not been luck by posting a second and fourth place, which left him second overall, just one point behind Argentina’s, Sebastian Peri Brusa.

Hannah Mills started clawing her way back up the leader board on day three having been disqualified for being over the line on a black flag start the day before. She finished in third place in the first race of the day, and was first to cross the finish line in race seven, only to find she had again been over the line at the start. This meant Hannah had now used both of her discards and would have to be cautious on the start line for the rest of the week.

Even with two disqualifications Hannah sailed exceptionally well and going into the final day could still finish as high as third overall. Two fifth places on the final day gave her a fifth place overall in the regatta, and first girl.

This was the best result ever by a British Optimist sailor and the first time a British Optimist sailor has been crowned Girls Optimist World Champion.

Clearly delighted by her performance Hannah commented: “I am overwhelmed to win the World Championships. After finishing as second girl at the 2002 Optimist Worlds, I was determined to win this year, especially as this was my last regatta in the Optimist. I sailed really hard all week, but was really disappointed with my two disqualifications. I am really pleased with the British team result as we have all trained and sailed hard for these championships.”

The rest of the team also excelled, leaving the British team second nation overall, the best result ever in the 41 year history of the Optimist Worlds.

Richard Mason finished in 10th place, Greg Carey had a shaky middle to his regatta, but ended on a high note finishing the last race in fourth place, leaving him 12th overall. Robert Claridge, ended the week in 30th place and James Murdock, 52th.

Olympic Gold Medallist and Team Volvo for life sailor Ben Ainslie was very impressed with the teams performance, “It is a fantastic performance from the young British team, they had much better results than the British sailors from my era, which is great for the future of British sailing, especially Hannah Mills. “

Richard Mason, Greg Carey, James Murdock and Robert Claridge now have a week off, before competing at the Volvo Musto National Optimist Championships at Weymouth & Portland Sailing Academy (9th – 15th August 2003).

World Champion Hannah Mills however, will now be moving into the 420 class teaming up with crew Peggy Webster. They will compete at the 420 National Championship later this month.