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Who is Hannah Mills, Britain’s 2020 Olympic flagbearer?

One of sailing’s top Olympic performers and environmental campaigner, Hannah Mills is hoping to add another gold to her collection in 2020.

The British sailing team’s Hannah Mills has been selected to carry the Union Jack in the Olympic opening ceremony tomorrow, Friday 23 July.

The reigning 470 Olympic sailing champion says being named as a flagbearer for Team GB at Friday’s opening ceremony of Tokyo 2020 is the greatest honour of her career.

Hannah Mills (left) with then crew Saskia Clark celebrate gold after their final race in Rio. Photo: Sailing Energy / World Sailing

Mills won gold at Rio 2016 and silver at London 2012 in the 470 class alongside Saskia Clark, and is aiming to defend her gold in the women’s double-handed dinghy with new teammate Eilidh McIntyre.

Hannah Mills will carry the Union Jack alongside rower Moe Sbihi, who won gold in the coxless four in Rio, in the first Olympic opening ceremony to feature both male and female athletes carrying each nation’s flag.

Mills, 33, will also be the first female sailor to carry the Union flag. “To be asked to carry the flag for Team GB at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games is not a sentence I ever thought I’d say,” she said after the announcement.

“When (Chef de Mission) Mark (England) told me I had been chosen, it was completely overwhelming and when I had a moment to think about what it meant I got pretty emotional.

“It is the greatest honour in my career and I hope more than ever before that this Games can lift our country and deliver some incredible sporting moments to inspire the nation.”

Hannah Mills (left) and new crew Eilidh McIntyre racing in their 470. Photo: British Sailing / Lloyd images

Hannah Mills and Eilidh McInytre go into Tokyo 2020 as one of Britain’s best Olympic gold medal hopes.

Hannah Mills was already one of the most decorated British Olympic sailors when she paired with Eilidh in January 2017, having won a silver medal at London 2012 and a gold at Rio 2016. The images of her and long-standing crew Saskia Clark hugging and jumping for joy after winning gold demonstrated their genuine friendship as well as immensely successful partnership.

Mills and Clark celebrate on the top step of the podium in Rio. Photo: World Sailing / Sailing Energy

After Clark retired following Rio, she teamed up with new partner Eilidh McIntyre in early 2017. McIntyre, along with helm Sophie Weguelin, had been Mills and Clark’s main rivals for the British 470 team selection for Rio in 2016.

The new partnership was instantly successful, winning the World Cup Series final in Santander, Spain on their first outing together, then taking silver at the 470 world championships.

The pair have continued to secure an impressive series of results, including winning the 2019 470 World Championship and reaching the podium of the World Championships three times in the past four years.

Hannah Mills was born in Wales and started sailing at age eight on Cardiff Bay, having tried the sport on holiday. She sprang to the British sailing world’s attention aged just 14 when she won the Optimist National Championships in 2002, the first girl to do so, and the Optimist Girls’ World Championship in 2003. She was named UK Young Sailor of the Year and BBC Wales Young Sports Personality of the Year.

Having moved into the double-handed youth dinghy, the 420, she won the women’s worlds in 2006 and then the larger 470 class’s women’s junior title in 2010.

Eilidh McInytre comes from a family with a strong Olympic sailing tradition: her dad Mike won Gold in the Star keelboat with Bryn Vaile at Seoul in 1988 in a dramatic Olympic regatta that saw mast breakages and rescues. McIntyre and Vaile won the only gold medal for Britain in sailing for 14 years, between 1976 and 2000. Hannah’s partner is Nick Dempsey, also a three-time Olympic medallist in windsurfing.

McIntyre (left) and Mills (right) hope for success in Tokyo 2020. Photo: British Sailing Team / Lloyd images

McInytre and Mills are likely to face close competition in Tokyo for the 470 women’s gold medal from the French pairing of Camille Lecointre and Aloise Retornaz (FRA), while the recently crowned World Champions, Silvia Mas and Patricia Cantero (ESP), also look well placed for a fight at the top of the podium. Japan is also well represented, with 2018 World Champions Ai Kondo and Miho Yoshioka sailing on home waters.

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Mills is also a strong voice in ocean conservation. After seeing the pollution in Rio, she worked with the International Olympic Committee she launched the Big Plastic Pledge, encouraging people to make three daily promises to reduce single-use plastics in their lives.

Following this morning’s announcement that Hannah Mills would be the Team GB flagbearer at the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony she added on her Facebook page. “I am completely lost for words… Overwhelmed, honoured and proud are definitely feelings I’ve felt over the last 24hours! Telling my family was pretty emotional!

“The number of other incredible female athletes in the team who also would have truly deserved this too is not lost on me so I hope to do them and the whole of Team GB proud.

“I will carry the flag for Team GB, the athletes and the whole of the U.K. | For the Olympics and what they represent | For the planet and the changes we need to make.

“Thank you @teamgb for this incredible honour.”


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Best water toys: the latest inflatables and kit for fun afloat

Toby Hodges looks at the latest inflatables, water toys, and accessories that will help maximise your enjoyment afloat in the sun

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With the Northern Hemisphere summer now in full swing many of us have our boats back on the water. But with long distance cruising still difficult, perhaps it is time to look at some fun inflatables and water toys to make the most out of your time on the water this summer.

Here in the UK it may seem like we have a comically short summer season, but the Brits certainly like to make the most of the sun when it does choose to come out. While gearing up for your summer cruise or next long weekend in the sun however, have you considered which kit might maximise your enjoyment aboard?

It’s still all about inflatable tech and electric power in the tenders and toys world – and some foiling too of course.

Red Paddle Co Ride 10’6 stand up paddleboard

A few years ago a step change in technology brought us the inflatable stand-up paddleboard (SUP). It was not long before many yacht owners added them to their inventory thanks to affordable prices, along with their compact size and light weight – some fit in a small backpack and weigh less than 8kg. These are fast becoming a replacement for inflatable dinghies for some.

Nowadays you’ll likely be the odd one out in an anchorage if you don’t carry a SUP (or two) aboard – and in which you’ll be missing out on fun, exercise and some adventure for all the family.

This will be our fourth year/season of using our Red Ride 10’6 and for much of the summer it replaces any need for a conventional inflatable tender. This remains the most popular all-round and near-bulletproof model available.

The Plymouth-based company has since released a 9’6 Compact model, which better suits small lockers.

Red Paddle Co Ride 10’6 deals

Buy it now from Red Paddle Co

Note: We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site, at no extra cost to you. This doesn’t affect our editorial independence.

Yamaha Seawing II

For those who can’t be bothered with flippers… this is the latest in the Seabob style underwater dragging craze. The Seawing II is licensed by Yamaha and has twin motors that pull to a speed of 5mph (faster than it sounds when submersed).

The 10aH battery pack gives a run time of around 40 minutes and charges in three hours and there is a battery level display. It’s very compact and weighs just 3.7kg.

Yamaha Seawing II deals

Buy it now from Amazon (US)

Buy it now from Amazon (UK)

ePropulsion Spirit 1.0 EVO

Meanwhile, we recently conducted a test on lightweight inflatable dinghies with sister title PBO and on electric outboards with Yachting Monthly. The results for both will be published during the autumn but it’s clear to see that the days of petrol outboards aboard yachts look numbered.

ePropulsion’s Spirit EVO range looks particularly appealing. These are the first electric outboards with hydro generating capabilities. The Spirit 1.0 EVO is equivalent to a 3hp outboard, which can charge while sailing.

Buy ePropulsion Spirit 1.0 EVO from Norfolk Marine

F-One Rocket Air

There have been two recent explosions in the watersports market: firstly with inflatable toys such as paddleboards and then with foiling. So what happens when you fuse the two?

Rocket Air – potentially the best bang for your buck that you can fit in a compact locker space. It can be used as an inflatable surf or paddleboard, or with the addition of a foil, for foil surfing, foil paddle boarding, wing foiling (with an inflatable wing) or just towing behind the tender (it’s amazing how little pulling power you need).

F-One offers a range of sizes from 4ft 10in (75lt) through to a 7ft 11in board, which has a massive 185lt of volume. The smaller boards better suit surf and wing/kite use and the larger boards are for wing and SUP enthusiasts.

They are designed around F-One’s highly popular rigid boards, down to the same foil position.

The dropstitch construction is ideal for the stiffness required while ensuring a ding-proof toy to lug around your yacht.

Buy F-One Rocket Air from sup.co.uk

Packraft – Lightweight inflatable dinghies

Packrafting is the latest new inflatable water sport with equipment relevant to cruising yachts that’s rapidly gaining popularity, says Rupert Holmes. It uses ultra lightweight one or two person inflatable dinghies, many of which weigh less than 2kg.

These are made of a very lightweight urethane nylon fabric that’s resistant to both abrasion and tears.

It’s also possible to find lower priced packrafts made of a similar PVC to inflatable tenders, though these tend to be somewhat heavier at around 8kg.

While a packraft is unlikely to replace a conventional tender it means there’s no longer a big barrier to carrying one, or even two, spare dinghies. This can enable crew members to go ashore independently, or allow older children to explore a sheltered estuary, for example.

The Anfibio Sigma TXV is a two person model with a transparent floor panel so that marine life can be viewed under the boat.

The boat weighs 2kg, while each of the two seats adds a further 250g. This model is 260cm (8ft 6in) long, with minimum tube diameter of 27cm – barely more than an inch smaller than the old Avon Redcrest, though the narrower beam restricts payload.

It’s important to recognise that there are many different specifications of packrafts available.

Some are only suitable for use on lakes and other very sheltered bodies of water, while at the other end of the spectrum others are designed for use in white water.

Buy Packrafts at packrafting-store

 

Electric scooter

A growing trend with cruising sailors is to use electric scooters as a mode of transport ashore as they are much more compact than a folding bike (for stowage and transporting ashore).

There are so many available now ranging from around £250-£2,500, but as well as price, chief considerations include battery limits, wheel sizes and weight, plus the need to check out the legal constraints of using specific models and speeds in different countries.

Pictured is the popular Pure Air Pro, priced at £599 from www.pureelectric.com. There’s a handy guide to the latest at t3.com.

Temo 450

For those going lightweight this electric sculling oar remains an intriguing solution. The 1.7m long oar contains a 450w electric motor and built-in rechargeable battery, which provides 45 minutes of grunt at full speed. The TEMO weighs only 4.9kg

Buy Temo 450 from temofrance.com


If you enjoyed this….

Yachting World is the world’s leading magazine for bluewater cruisers and offshore sailors. Every month we have inspirational adventures and practical features to help you realise your sailing dreams.
Build your knowledge with a subscription delivered to your door. See our latest offers and save at least 30% off the cover price.

The post Best water toys: the latest inflatables and kit for fun afloat appeared first on Yachting World.