Emirates GBR strategist and Women’s Pathway ambassador Hannah Mills reflects on the progress made in Season 3 and reveals what’s coming up for the program in Season 4.
Looking back at Season 3 - there were loads of milestone moments for the Women’s Pathway. Seeing France’s Manon Audinet take on flight control in Singapore showed big progression and is definitely what we are striving for - to see more females getting time in different roles on board the F50s.
We’ve also seen more and more women driving boats out of the maneuvers. Which is a huge part of the progression for our goal to have a female driver by Season 6. The more we see women driving the boat, the closer it gets to becoming a reality. I also think that me coming back from having a baby and reintegrating back into the team was a milestone - it gave other female athletes at the top of the sport the assurance and encouragement that there is a route back, and that’s exciting.
At the New Zealand event in Christchurch we held the Breaking Boundaries forum, where Katja Salskov-Iversen from Denmark, Isabella Bertold from Canada, Liv Mackay from New Zealand and I sat down and chatted with Kiwi Olympian Anna Willcox.
We talked about being a female athlete in sailing and it was amazing to have all of the young Inspire sailors there and see how excited they were. That’s really important because we want to build up these young athletes for the future and I’m a strong believer of the mantra “if you can see it, you can be it”.
Looking ahead, I think Season 4 is going to be even bigger and better for the Women’s Pathway - but we need commercial backing and funding to move it forward. The goal is to have a woman driving and winning events - but we need the support to make that happen. The real barrier is the restriction of training time. That makes it difficult to get enough time on the boat. One of the big aims for Season 4 is getting women into other roles on board, not just the strategist.
It’s now in the Impact League criteria that teams need to be developing female athletes in the driver, wing trimmer or flight controller position, with the aim of that athlete being the reserve for that role in Season 5. The focus for teams this season is to identify one of the back three roles to train up their female athlete in. There’s often somebody with illness or injury or who can’t make every event, so we do need to be building depth in the squad - and the women are going to be part of that depth. That feels like the best possible way to move the program forward, and I’m excited to see how teams take that on.
Another big aim is to secure funding and commercial partnership. That would really supercharge the Women’s Pathway and fast-track the ambition of getting a woman driver. For someone to own that and to be responsible for creating the first female driver in SailGP would be huge.