Dorset EchoOlympic sailors compete in Round the Island Race (From Dorset Echo)

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Olympic sailors compete in Round the Island Race

Dorset Echo: Hannah and partner Saskia Clark racing the 470 dinghy at the Hyeres Olympic Week, France Hannah and partner Saskia Clark racing the 470 dinghy at the Hyeres Olympic Week, France

THE Olympic clock might be ticking faster than ever but Hannah Mills has been used to racing against time ever since she joined forces with Saskia Clark.

Last weekend the duo, who have enjoyed a whirlwind 17 months since joining forces in February 2011, swapped their 470 dinghy for a Farr 45 yacht to enjoy another high-profile race without the pressure.

The Team Volvo sailors competed in the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, as part of a spectacular send-off for some of Britain’s top sailing talent.

Weymouth’s Mills also enjoyed the honour of firing the starting cannon before being transported by speedboat to rejoin her yacht racing around the Isle of Wight.

The 24-year-old was really ‘excited’ to be asked to carry out the prestigious role and said her main goal was for her and Clark to reach the finishing line ‘without injury’.

With just 24 days to go until the Olympic Games begins, the yacht race was the last public event for Mills, Clark, triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie and Paralympic sailor Helena Lucas, before the Games.

In the past few months the 470 Girls have claimed gold at the World Championships in Barcelona in May, and clinched bronze at last month’s Skandia Sail for Gold regatta on Weymouth and Portland waters.

Earlier this month, all the Skandia Team GBR sailors collected their London 2012 kit from the Team GB Loughborough Preparation Camp.

Mills, who is originally from Cardiff but now lives in the Rodwell area of Weymouth, said: “It’s exciting, it really brings it home that there really isn’t long to go now and that we’re in the final run-up to the Games.

“For us now it’s all about building on the good work that we have done and we can definitely take away a lot of positives from the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta.

“We made a lot of mistakes that are totally rectifiable in the time we have and we don’t feel like we sailed as well as we could have so to come away with a bronze medal is good.

“We’ve shown everyone that we’re still there and we’re not going away and as a team we’ve learned lots of new things which is good.

“We can’t wait to put them into practice now and refine it over the next month.”

Mills and Clark joined forces after Clark’s former sailing partner Weymouth’s double Olympic medallist Sarah Ayton’s shock retirement from the sport.

After clinching silver at both Sail for Gold 2011 and the Olympic test event, which secured them official Team GB selection, Weymouth’s 470 Girls quickly become hot favourites to end the Games with silverware around their necks.

Mills believes good communication on the water is the key to securing success.

She added: “It was all kind of flung together a bit last year with no system or anything of how we did it.

“But on the water we now know what each other’s role is in each condition and the best way to get across what we need to say without doing it in a hundred words.

“And it has made a huge difference to our decision-making, our awareness of the fleet and all different sorts of things.”

Olympic competition begins for the 470 women’s class on Friday, August 3, with the medal race scheduled for Friday, August 10.

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