Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team strategist Hannah Mills has called on all athletes to ‘think about their wider purpose’ beyond their sport and use their platforms to promote meaningful change.
Speaking at SailGP’s Champions For Change event as part of the KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix last weekend, Mills said it was important for athletes to ‘think about what else they can do’.
“I strongly feel now that athletes have to be more than just an athlete - you can’t just go around doing your sport and put your head in the sand about everything else that’s going on in the world,” she said.
She reflected on her own sustainability journey, which began after witnessing the plastic pollution that plagued the waters at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. “I just felt compelled to do something about it, so I start learning and educating and realizing how big a voice you have as an athlete,” she said.
Mills combines her on-water role with being SailGP’s Purpose Ambassador, in which she helps shape the league’s sustainability and purpose initiatives, including the Women’s Pathway.
Launched in Season 2, the Pathway currently calls for every SailGP team to race with at least one female athlete on board in both four and six person crew configurations, as well as identifying and training up key female talent.
But Mills said she hopes to help ‘accelerate’ the program to have full gender equity on board the F50s.
“The Women’s Pathway has stepped in to create the opportunity for women to get on board these boats and try and close that experience gap, so it’s incredibly important,” she added.
Australia strategist Nina Curtis, who spoke alongside, Mills, agreed that there ‘is no reason’ why gender equity cannot be achieved on board.
“The only thing now is closing down the skills gap and it’s happening really quickly,” she said.