Monday, March 4, 2024

After all the training in Mallorca, Britain picks women’s and youth America’s Cup squad

After the best part of two years of training in Palma, British sailors Hannah Mills and Ben Ainslie today, Monday, named the squad who will attempt to win this year’s inaugural women’s America’s Cup and retain the youth version of the event.

The selection of 12 sailors from more than 300 will see Mills back in a boat with Saskia Clark, the crew with whom the most successful Olympic female sailor won her first gold medal in the 470 dinghy class in Rio in 2016.

The Women’s and Youth America’s Cups, which will take place alongside the 37th America’s Cup in Barcelona in September and October, are the central plank of the Athena Pathway, which Mills and Ainslie launched in 2022 with the aim of increasing diversity in sailing and Britain’s marine industry.

Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, attends the SailGP race, in Plymouth

“It’s an incredible milestone for our sport. These athletes represent a new era of inclusivity and excellence in competitive sailing,” Mills said, describing the selection of the squad, who between them boast a total of 6 Olympic and 22 world championship medals, as “a very difficult decision”.

On-the-water and simulator-based trials were used to assess the abilities of the sailors to adapt to the skills required to step up to the AC40 foiling monohulls which will be used for the events and can “fly” at speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour.

Other athletes selected include Tokyo Olympic silver medallist Anna Burnet, who as well as Ellie Aldridge, Saskia Tidey and Freya Black, is set to represent Britain at the Paris 2024 Olympics. The other picks are Nick Robins, Hannah Diamond, Matt Beck, Alex Hughes, James Grummett and Hattie Rogers.

“We have selected a high calibre squad and to have someone like Hannah leading them on and off the water is incredibly inspiring. We will certainly be setting our expectation high,” said Ainslie, the most successful male Olympic sailor.

Ainslie, whose own team will be attempting to go head-to-head with holders New Zealand to win the world’s oldest sporting trophy, said the Athena Pathway challenge will be backed by UK-based aerospace and maritime technology firm Cobham-Ultra.

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