Slingsby, Ainslie resume SailGP rivalry
Former Oracle crewmates Tom Slingsby and Ben Ainslie will resume their burgeoning rivalry when SailGP resumes in Denmark this weekend.
Although SailGP is loaded with gold medallists, world champions and former and current America's Cup victors, a gripping duel is developing between Australian skipper Slingsby and British counterpart Ainslie - winners of the America's Cup in 2013 with Oracle Team USA.
Defending champions Australia and Britain each have 22 points, with Australia technically in the lead after skipper Slingsby bounced back from an uncharacteristic last-place finish in the previous regatta to sail his foiling 50-foot catamaran to victory the UK regatta in mid-July with three replacement crew members.
France are third with 21 points, followed by the United States, Japan and Spain with 19. Denmark and New Zealand have 17 points each.
After watching the last two regattas from another continent due to the birth of his second child, Ainslie will be back at the wheel of the British boat.
Olymplic gold medallist Slingsby is looking forward to having Ainslie back.
"He's actually never lost a SailGP event," said Slingsby, who led the Aussies to the inaugural championship in 2019 and the $1 million, winner-take-all prize. "He's gone two for two," said Slingsby. "It'll be great to have him back. He's sort of the one we're gunning for."
Ainslie beat Slingsby in the podium race of the Season 2 opening regatta in Bermuda in late April after the Aussies dominated the fleet races.
He also won the original opener of Season 2 in early 2020 in Sydney but that result was voided after the pandemic forced the league to punt the rest of the schedule into 2021.
Ainslie, a four-time Olympic gold medallist, said he'll need to get back up to speed after missing two regattas.
"It's really about teamwork, so I've got to do my job well and get back on pace as quickly as I can and not let the rest of the team down," he said.
"If I miss a beat that will put the rest of the team off their rhythm."
The US team's streak of bad luck continued Friday during a practice race.
Wing trimmer Paul Campbell-James broke his right leg when he was thrown out of the cockpit and landed on the wing sail after the boat popped out of the water during a high-speed manoeuvre in strong wind.
Australian skipper Jimmy Spithill also was thrown out of the cockpit but wasn't injured.
The Aussies will be closer to full strength when flight controller Jason Waterhouse returns after sailing in the Olympics.
Grinder Kinley Fowler is also back after being with his wife for the birth of their second child.
"We're feeling good," Slingsby said by phone. "It was a bit of a shock I guess with having a lot of replacements the last event but everyone sailed really well and we managed to sneak away with a win.
"We've got to find some consistency and try to be at the top of the fleet. We haven't been too consistent so far."
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