Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre have won Rolex World Sailors of the Year in recognition of their sensational Tokyo 2020 gold medals in a virtual ceremony streamed live from the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes.
The women’s 470 Olympic champions made history this summer, with Mills becoming the most successful female Olympic sailor of all time with two golds and a silver to her name, while McIntyre equalled the success of her father Mike who took the top spot in the Star class at Seoul 1988.
The pair saw off some of the biggest names in women’s sailing to take top gong including Brazil’s two-time Olympic champion Martine Grael, kitefoil world champion Daniela Moroz from the USA and French round the world yachtswoman Clarisse Cremer. It was a second win for Hannah, after also taking the title in 2016, with Saskia Clark.
Other British females to have won since the awards began in 1994 are Shirley Robertson (2000), Ellen Macarthur (2001 and 2005) and Sarah Ayton (2015).
“I am completely blown away,” said Mills, from Cardiff. “The line-up this year was absolutely incredible. I am so proud of Eilidh for everything she put into this Olympic campaign, she was the absolute best teammate. I am really honoured.
“I feel privileged to be a female in sailing right now, there are so many opportunities out there. I really hope to be a part of forging the pathway for female sailors of today and for the future. It is inspirational to be part of a federation like World Sailing who take sustainability so seriously and I feel so lucky to be involved in such an amazing sport.”
McIntyre, from Hayling Island, Hants, added: “I just want to say thank you to Hannah, and everyone for voting for us and for all of your support. We wouldn’t be here without all of the amazing women pushing us.”
The pair picked up 37 per cent of the public vote, making them clear winners. A record-breaking 40,000 votes were cast this year to honour the achievements of sailors across all disciplines.
Double Olympic champion Giles Scott was shortlisted for the men’s award but was beaten to it by SailGP star Tom Slingsby.
The World Sailing 11th Hour Racing Sustainability Award went to the Sail Africa Youth Development Foundation for increasing the participation of ethnically diverse and female sailors in Durban, South Africa.