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Hannah Mills & Saskia Clark ~Road to Rio

Jonny Fullerton of Grand Prix Sailing talks to 2012 Olympic 470 silver medallists Hannah Mills & Saskia Clark of Team GBR at the start of the 2015 season

JF: Whats your current assessment of where you stand at the start of the 2015 season?
HM: We are really happy with where we are at the moment we have made had some really good stats this winter with our equipment and our fitness and with our communication on the water, so we feel really confident going into this season. We have still got things to work on but we have definitely made a good gain over the winter and feel we are in a really good position to have a good season.
JF: You have been training in the Algarve but what style of training suits you best, individual training camps or at events like the Sailing World Cup or at the Rio venue itself?
SC: I think its a total combination of what you are tying to achieve at any given time, we definitely needed some time this winter in a small group to do some equipment stuff so we went to the Algarve with a small British group. We are really in control of everything ourselves there but obviously moving into the new season you need to do more race course based stuff with bigger fleets with high quality competition and practice some scenarios and stuff.
JF: So you have a new boat, the ‘Cinnamon Puff’ I believe the last boat was the “Honey Badger’ so who of you is the ‘Honey Badger” and who is the ‘Cinnamon Puff’?
HM & SC: A lot of giggles! We can.t possible say!
JF: So this is all part of your Rio build up, equipment checking?
HM: Yes definitely, we were so rushed for London 2012 with an 18 month build up, we only teamed up together in February 2011 and had to battle for selection so it was all a bit manic and we didn’t have the time to put aside for all the equipment stuff so we are better prepared in this cycle, but we still have a lot on in selection, but I think to have the vision of gold in Rio we know we need to spend this time on equipment and make the time to make it happen.
JF: Yes well you do have experience on your side but you also have a very talented team in Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh Mcintrye who are breathing down your necks as well as some other younger development squad members fighting for the GBR team place?Hannah Mills & Saskia Clark ~Road to Rio
SC: I think its great for us to have that competition, it could be quite easy if you didn’t to sit back a bit and lose sight of the main prize which is a gold medal so if you have got a fight in your own country selection, it keeps you really on your toes to be pushing for gold in Rio so we welcome that competition and look forward to the fight.
JF: As far as your other main competition there are some regular names that crop up but who are you keeping a close eye on this season?
HM: Yes we definitely are its good to keep one eye on your close opposition and see what they are doing, it gives you an idea of whether you are on the right track or not.
The Kiwis had a really good season last season and at the start of this season, they are just sailing really well at the moment, so we need to keep an eye on what they are doing, any differences, and learn from them as much as we can but at the same time keep doing what we do well. Its very small differences at the top of any class so its the smallest changes that can make a big difference.
JF: So looking ahead to this season you are sailing the Sailing World Cup regattas and the Worlds at the end of the year and of course selection but any other main aims for the rest of the season?
SC: We have a long trip to Rio in August, which is hugely valuable to be on the Olympic race course with a smaller Olympic size fleet at the test event and learn lessons from that. Time out there is super valuable, we find it quite hard to find the gaps in the programme to get out there so any time out there we really need to be on our game and eyes open to everything we can learn there.
JF: And apart from the water pollution problem in Rio, what is your assessment of the race courses there?
HM: Its an amazing place to sail, obviously the water quality inside is not very nice at the moment but hopefully its improving. Especially outside on the open ocean there are some amazing conditions, big waves, generally quite good winds.
The only real problem we see is the daylight hours, the Olympic games are held in winter in Brazil and the daylight hours are short and the wind doesn’t usually arrive until about 1pm so there is a small racing time window so that is probably the biggest issue.
JF Ok, well I wish you all the best for the season and aim to catch up with you at the end to see how you have gone.
HM & SC: Great thanks very much
By Jonny Fullerton – Grand Prix Sailing

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