Slingsby's Aussies chase SailGP three-peat

Bernie WilsonAP
Tom Slingsby's Team Australia are chasing a hat-trick of wins in SailGP's Season 3 championship.
Camera IconTom Slingsby's Team Australia are chasing a hat-trick of wins in SailGP's Season 3 championship. Credit: AP

The champagne showers from Team Australia's Season 2 championship have barely dried and SailGP is already starting another dash for $A1.5 million in cash.

The third season of tech tycoon Larry Ellison's global league begins this weekend on the turquoise waters of Bermuda's Great Sound.

To no one's surprise, Tom Slingsby's juggernaut Aussie crew remains the one to beat.

Slingsby, an Olympic gold medalist and former America's Cup champion, has skippered the Flying Roo 50-foot foiling catamaran to the first two championships, each coming with a $A1.5 million winner-take-all prize.

The fleet expands this season with new teams from Canada and Switzerland although Japan, which reached the podium race in the first two seasons, have run into financial difficulties and will miss the first three regattas. The number of regattas has increased to 10.

The Aussies clearly remain the class of the fleet and are aiming at a three-peat.

"It's hard to say how we're going to go but we're as confident probably as we ever have been," Slingsby said.

"If we sail as well as we know we can, we can win races and win events. We're in a really good position in that we don't need to do anything special to win.

"We just need to do what we've done time and time again and we know that our best can beat other teams' best and I'm not sure they have that same luxury."

Nicknamed "Red Mist" for his occasional flashes of temper on the water, the red-headed Slingsby expertly steered the Flying Roo - named for the big yellow kangaroo on the wingsail - to sailing's biggest cash prize for the second time since 2019.

He beat Japan and the United States in the grand finale of the pandemic-delayed second season in San Francisco on March 27.

Slingsby continues to sail with his veteran crew of Kyle Langford, Jason Waterhouse, Kinley Fowler and Sam Newton.

"When we're in a tight situation or a high-pressure moment I know that these guys perform under pressure and I think they know that I do, also," he said.

Slingsby said Team Australia will donate $A72,000 from the team's $A1.5 million prize to its Race for the Future partner, Parley for the Oceans, to assist with remote expeditions and cleanups of marine plastics pollution throughout Australia's beaches and coastlines.

Team USA, meanwhile, is looking for more consistent results even though it reached the grand finale in Jimmy Spithill's first year as skipper.

"I thought it was a good first step but definitely not something we're satisfied with," said Spithill, an Australian who lives full-time in San Diego.

"We want to be at the top of the podium for sure. But like any sport there is no shortcut. You've got to put the time in, the hours in, and try to catch who I believe is the benchmark team, clearly, is the Aussies.

"They've been together longer than anyone. That group is really so locked in for a significant amount of time and it really shows. They are doing a lot of things well."

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