London Olympic Laser gold medallist Tom Slingsby will skipper Team in the Sail GP series.Champion sailor Tom Slingsby believes the national teams aspect of the new SailGP series will help make it the sport’s premier event – and one of the best across all sports.
Six 50-foot catamarans capable of speeds of more than 90km/h will contest the five-event inshore series, starting on Sydney Harbour on February 15-16.
The teams representing , China, France, Great Britain, Japan and the United States then take the series to San Francisco (May), New York (June), Cowes (August) and Marseille (September).
“The great thing is we’ve got countries which we’ve naturally got a rivalry with, whether it’s the US or the UK,” Olympic gold medallist Slingsby, who was announced as Team skipper on Monday, said.
“The product we’re going to be bringing to the public now is really going to be nothing the sailing world, or I think the sporting world, has ever seen before.
“A lot of people will draw comparisons to the America’s Cup or Olympics.
‘We’re really trying to not define ourselves by any other sailing competition.
“We’re trying to compare ourselves to the top sporting events in the world.”
Slingsby’s crew of Kyle Langford, Jason Waterhouse, Ky Hurst and Sam Newton have between them have won world titles, Olympic medals and competed in the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race.
“I’ve been fortunate to be able to assemble the people who I think are the best sailors in the world and they happen to be from ,” Slingsby said.
“I’ve seen some reports that are the favourites and, if you look at our crew, we should be the favourites on paper.
“For me, the ability to come back and represent again that’s a huge thing.
“Obviously I’ve represented at the Olympics and then there wasn’t an n team in the America’s Cup, which I always wanted to do.”
Competition will be over two days with a final match race between the two leading teams in each event.
Points will be accumulated throughout the series, culminating in a match race between the top two teams for a $US1 million ($A1.4 million) purse.
Slingsby expected to take delivery of the n boat in mid-November and said it would be an upgraded version of the ones used in the past America’s Cup.
“They’ve been made faster and they’ve been made easier to sail, which means we can get them around and move them a lot on tighter courses, and they turn better,” Slingsby said.
“I think the top speed we did in the America’s Cup was about 47 knots (87km/h), these new boats with the new foils and control systems, we’re hoping to do 50 knots, maybe 52, 53 knots of boat speed.”