The champagne rain from Team Australia’s Season 2 Championship has barely dried up and SailGP is already embarking on another dash of $1 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 juggler remains the one to beat the Aussie squad.
Olympic gold medalist and former America’s Cup champion Slingsby has left the Flying Roo 50-foot foiling catamaran in the first two championships, each with a $1 million winner-take-all prize.
The fleet extends this season with new teams from Canada and Switzerland, although Japan – which reached the podium race in the first two seasons – has run into financial difficulties and will miss the first three regattas. The number of regattas has increased to 10.
The Australian clearly remains the class of the fleet and is aiming for a three-peat.
“It’s hard to say how we’re going to go, but we’re as confident as we ever were,” Slingsby said. “If we go sailing as well as we know we can, then we can win races and win events. We’re in a really good position that we don’t need to do anything special to win. We Just need to do what we’ve done over and over again and we know that our best can beat the best of other teams and I’m not sure they have the same luxury.”
Nicknamed the “Red Mist” for its occasional glow on the water, the redheaded Slingsby skillfully steers the Flying Roo – named for the big yellow kangaroo on the wings – for the biggest cash prize in sailing for the second time since 2019. They defeated Japan and the United States in the pandemic-delayed second season grand finale in San Francisco on March 27.
Slingsby continues to sail with its experienced 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 these guys perform under pressure and I think they know that I do too,” he said.
Slingsby was hired last week by America’s Cup syndicate American Magic. He will continue in SailGP as the next America’s Cup is not until 2024.
Slingsby said on Friday that Team Australia will receive $72,000 from the team’s $1 million prize for its Race for the Future partner, Parley for the Ocean, to aid in remote campaigns and clean-up of marine plastic pollution in Australia’s beaches. AUD, or approximately $50,000 US. beach
Team USA, meanwhile, is looking for more consistent results, even as it reached the grand finale in Jimmy Spithill’s first year as captain. The American boat had several accidents and mishaps, one of which was broken leg by wing trimmer Paul Campbell-James.
Spithill, an Australian who lives full-time in San Diego, said: “Given the devastation we had to deal with and the fact that we qualified for the finals, I thought it was a good first step, but certainly nothing like with which we are satisfied.” With his American wife and their two sons. “We definitely want to be on top of the podium. But like any sport there are no shortcuts. You have to put in the time, in the hours, and try to catch who I believe is the benchmark team, Clearly, Aussie. They’ve been together longer than anyone. That group has been off for a really long time and it really shows. They’re doing a lot of good.”
Flight controller Rome Kirby was injured during a nose-dive in San Francisco and will miss the regatta, so the American team is bringing in Hans Heineken as flight controller. Heineken was with the US team in the inaugural season in 2019. He is literally a rocket scientist, having received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Stanford. Luke Muller, who sailed to the Tokyo Olympics, will serve as a backup to grinder/strategist Andrew Campbell.
Spithill, a two-time America’s Cup winner with Oracle Team USA, said he felt the team needed to build some depth.
“The US team’s long-term goal is to return them to the powerhouse that America was in, let’s say, the 80s and 90s,” said Spithill, who supported Italy in an America’s Cup match last year . Emirates Team New Zealand. “It’s no secret. Results do matter. You look at the last America’s Cup, you look at the last Olympics, America was not there. Our strategy is to add depth to the roster, add talent.”