Embed from Getty Images

Hannah Mills Overlooked For GB SailGP Role To Take Over From Ben Ainslie


By David Williams

Hannah Mills has been overlooked for the chance to step up to one of the most high-profile roles in sailing.

Wales’ double Olympic champion has not been promoted to the driver role with the Great Britain SailGP team in succession to Sir Ben Ainslie, who is standing down.

Instead, Mills will remain as the team’s strategist and her fellow double Olympic gold medallist and America’s Cup sailor Giles Scott has been handed the helm of the SailGP F50 catamaran.

The decision could now lead to Cardiff-born Mills – who returned to racing last year after having a child – leaving the crew and starting her own team.

Ainslie, 46, said he will remain as CEO and majority owner of his British SailGP team as well as principal and skipper for INEOS Britannia, his British challenger for the 37th America’s Cup, which will take place in Barcelona later this year.

But Scott will take over at the next event in SailGP’s fourth season, on Jan 13-14 in Abu Dhabi, with Ainslie focusing on the team’s performance and on promoting sailing’s next generation.

“It’s time to give younger sailors the opportunity,” said Ainslie, who in 2022 set up the Athena Pathway Programme, which aims to fast-track the development of youth and female sailors and bring more diversity into sailing.

The decision to let go of the F50 wheel was probably the toughest of his sporting career, Ainslie said in a statement.

“As the CEO of both Emirates GBR and the INEOS Britannia America’s Cup Team, and most importantly a husband and father, at some point you’ve got to realise that you can’t do everything,” he said.

“We’ve got a huge talent in Giles Scott, he’s one of the best in the sport and he will suit this style of racing perfectly,” he said, adding he was going to be part of SailGP for “many years to come”.

On Mills being overlooked for the role – which would have broken fresh ground for the sport – Ainslie added: “Clearly, rightly, Hannah has a big determination, and ambition to steer one of those boats.

“And I’d like to think we’ve supported her massively through that. We’ve backed her through the Olympics, through becoming a mum.

“I don’t think we could have done any more to support Hannah and her progression through SailGP. We’re massive fans of hers and will continue to be as long as she’s involved with this team. And if she’s involved with another team.”

Speaking recently in Cadiz, Emirates GBR strategist Mills OBE said: “SailGP is one of the only sports where you can have men and women competing on an equal footing, what that showcases to the rest of the world is amazing.

“I don’t think it’s long until we see a female Driver, whether it’s me or someone else, it’s really exciting and will be a big jump forward.

“I’m pushing hard and would love to do that, but equally providing that opportunity for other women to come forward is really important to me.”

Scott, a one-time rival and long-term team mate Ainslie, said: “I’ve got to step up to the mark and do the best job I can to fill those big old boots that Ben’s left behind.

The British team are attempting to win the $1 million prize SailGP series, which has been dominated by Australia, for the first time.

They lie in fourth position in the 13-event series, which is due to culminate in San Francisco in July.

Hannah Mills Overcomes The Hardest Week Of Her Life To Become The Most Successful Female Sailor In Olympic History


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *