REIGNING 470 Olympic champion Hannah Mills and partner Eilidh McIntyre vowed to learn hard lessons from the first major regatta of 2019 after victory was snatched from them at the eleventh hour in the Hempel World Cup Series Miami.

Mills, based in Portland, and McIntyre began the 470 class double-points medal race in the runner-up spot three points off the lead – but with just eight points splitting the top four teams it was always going to be a tight race.

The duo, who teamed up post the Rio Olympics in 2017, started strongly and at the first mark were in gold medal position – a place they held onto until the final downwind leg of the race.

Rounding the penultimate mark in third place, Mills and McIntyre were under pressure to defend their position from German rivals Frederike Loewe and Anna Markfort plus Fabienne Oster and Anastasiya Winkel, in addition to Brazilian pairing Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Luiza Barbachan.

Disaster struck on the last run as they slipped to fifth and out of contention for a medal, let alone gold. The pair ended up fourth overall, one point off the Brazilians in third.

Despite the obvious disappointment, the duo vowed to come back stronger as they look to Tokyo 2020, less than 18 months away.

“It was a long week, with a lot of light, shifty conditions,” said Mills. “We battled until the very end and I want to say a huge thanks to Eilidh and our coach Elliot for getting me through the week having had a virus come on the day before we started.

“Of course I’m disappointed not to come away with the win or a medal, but it’s definitely true that you learn more from your defeats than victories.”

McIntyre added: “It’s really gutting to lose a medal that way – we were so close to winning the whole regatta. But we went out there this week and did what we said we wanted to do which was being in with a chance of winning going into the medal race. We did that and we gave it our all.

“It’s a shame we fell out of the medals but we were so close. If these things don’t happen then you don’t learn from them. Ultimately we want to win gold at Tokyo 2020 and every lesson we can take there that makes us better is a win for us.”

Britain’s other medal race competitors were Alison Young in the Laser Radial and Lorenzo Chiavarini in the Laser.

Young, the 2018 World Cup Series Miami champion, started the race in fourth overall, but, with a 19-point gap to third, was out of the running for a medal. She finished seventh in the medal race to claim fifth overall.

In the Laser fleet Chiavarini led round the top mark but crossed the finish line in fourth, securing eighth overall.

The next big event for the British Sailing Team will be the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma, Mallorca, in early April.


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