Hannah Mills to lead Great Britain crew boasting six Olympic and 22 Sailing World Championship medals in inaugural Women's America's Cup this autumn... as British Youth team prepare to defend their title in Barcelona

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Hannah Mills will lead an all-star crew boasting six Olympic and 22 World Championship medals as Great Britain aim to make more sailing history in the inaugural Puig Women's America's Cup.

The 37th America's Cup takes place in Barcelona in October with Emirates Team New Zealand defending their title - but there also will be a female competition for the first time and the resumption of the Youth America's Cup.

Double Olympic gold medallist Mills confirmed the make-up of the 12-strong British team at an event in London on Monday.

It followed an intensive 18-month trials process through the Athena Pathway, which was launched by Mills and Sir Ben Ainslie in 2022 to fast-track talent in high-performance sailing.

Over 300 sailors applied for the team and were had their skills tested in the AC40 foiling monohull boats capable of reaching 100km/h speeds and which will be used in the women's and youth regattas.

Double Olympic champion Hannah Mills has unveiled the Great Britain team for the first-ever Women's America's Cup, to be staged in Barcelona this October

Double Olympic champion Hannah Mills has unveiled the Great Britain team for the first-ever Women's America's Cup, to be staged in Barcelona this October

Double Olympic champion Hannah Mills has unveiled the Great Britain team for the first-ever Women's America's Cup, to be staged in Barcelona this October 

There were over 300 applications for the British Women's and Youth teams with a rigorous selection process both on AC40 boats and simulators through the Athena Pathway

There were over 300 applications for the British Women's and Youth teams with a rigorous selection process both on AC40 boats and simulators through the Athena Pathway

The 12-strong British squad, led by Mills, features her 2016 Olympic gold-winning partner in the 470 class Saskia Clark.

Also selected is Tokyo Olympic silver medallist Anna Burnet, who will represent Team GB again at the Paris Games later this year.

Ellie Aldridge, Saskia Tidey and Freya Black will also compete in the Paris Olympics and the Youth & Women's America's Cup competitions afterwards.

The final Athena Pathway picks are Nick Robins, Hannah Diamond, Matt Beck, Alex Hughes, James Grummett and Hattie Rogers.

Mills told Mail Sport: 'The whole basis for setting up the Athena Pathway was all about providing more opportunity and access to the sport, whether it's high performance in the Americas Cup or shoreside roles, engineering, boat building, sail making, anything around it.

'It's particularly for females but it's also for the next generation as well.

'With a lot of boats, there are roles that aren't purely physical which immediately opens up the opportunity for mixed sailing.

'For me, mixed sport is such a powerful message to send out to young people in particular. Seeing men and women sailing together on an equal footing - I think that is really powerful.

Mills and Saskia Clark, who won gold for Britain at Rio 2016, reunite for the America's Cup

Mills and Saskia Clark, who won gold for Britain at Rio 2016, reunite for the America's Cup

Anna Burnet (right), who won Olympic silver with John Gimson at the Tokyo Games, will compete at the America's Cup after the Paris Olympics

Anna Burnet (right), who won Olympic silver with John Gimson at the Tokyo Games, will compete at the America's Cup after the Paris Olympics 

'The Women's America's Cup will be the first one ever in history and those type of events are so inspirational. If I was a young girl looking, I'd be like 'wow, things are changing, opportunities are coming.'

The squad selections underline the strength in British sailing.

Black, 22, will be representing Team GB in the 49er FX class in Paris, while Aldridge is competing in the Formula Kite class.

Clark, 44, took silver at London 2012 before winning at Rio 2016, will be on the AC40 as a trimmer.

'Hannah and I had a great Olympic career together and I'm looking forward to reuniting, taking all the learnings from our Olympic experiences and applying them into a broader team environment in a new class of boot,' Clark said.

As well as seeking to win the first-ever Women's America's Cup, Great Britain will be defending it's Youth America's Cup title won in Bermuda in 2017.

Covid precluded the staging of a youth event in New Zealand in 2020.

Mills at the helm of the Athena Pathway AC40 during the build-up to the America's Cup

Mills at the helm of the Athena Pathway AC40 during the build-up to the America's Cup

Nick Robins (right) will head up the British boat in the Youth America's Cup in Barcelona

Nick Robins (right) will head up the British boat in the Youth America's Cup in Barcelona  

All members of the squad have to be between 18 and 25, with Robins confirmed as the helm for the British team.

Mills added: 'We've all got a lot of pressure. It's quite a different beast to organising an Olympic campaign.

'These boats are very difficult to sail, there's so much that can go wrong and the AC40s are true engineering machines.

'It's been a massive learning curve for me, but Ben and his team have been unbelievably supportive in getting us to this point.'

Four-time Olympic champion Ainslie, 47, is heading up the INEOS Britannia bid to take on New Zealand in the America's Cup.

'We couldn't be prouder of what Athena Pathway stands for - giving youth and female sailors more opportunity in our sport,' he said.

Sir Ben Ainslie on the AC40 Athena Pathway simulator with Greig Academy students

Sir Ben Ainslie on the AC40 Athena Pathway simulator with Greig Academy students 

Mills and Ainslie with Shonnel Malani, Chairman of the Board of Cobham and Ultra Electronics

Mills and Ainslie with Shonnel Malani, Chairman of the Board of Cobham and Ultra Electronics

'We have selected a high calibre squad and to have someone like Hannah leading them on and off the water is incredibly inspiring.

'We will certainly be setting our expectation high as we look ahead to the Women's and Youth America's Cup.'

Athena Pathway also announced a partnership with the UK engineering firm Cobham-Ultra with the company pledging £5million to support academically-talented students from under-represented groups access STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] subjects.

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