Slingsby's Aussies seek SailGP hat-trick

Bernie WilsonAAP
Team Australia are out to defend their lead in the SailGP global league off St Tropez this weekend.
Camera IconTeam Australia are out to defend their lead in the SailGP global league off St Tropez this weekend. Credit: AP

Tom Slingsby's Team Australia will be trying for a hat trick this weekend in the SailGP global league's regatta in Saint-Tropez, France.

The Aussies had dominating wins in the last two regattas, in England in mid-July and Denmark three weeks ago, even though they weren't at full strength while crew members were either competing in the Olympics or tending to family matters.

Those two wins followed an uncharacteristic last-place finish in Italy in early June.

With the return of grinder Sam Newton for the racing this weekend, Slingsby has his front-line crew back on the Aussies' foiling 50-foot catamaran. Flight controller Jason Waterhouse returned for the Denmark regatta after missing two regattas due to the Olympics and grinder Kinley Fowler also was back after missing a regatta to be with his wife for the birth of their second child. Newton has been in Australia with his family.

"These are guys who've been unfortunately unable to attend all the events through Olympics or having kids or being stuck in Australia," Slingsby said on Friday.

"Now we've got our full team, we've got no excuses, that's for sure. So hopefully we can perform with these guys because in my eyes that's our A team."

Slingsby steered the Aussies to the inaugural season championship in 2019 and the $US1 million, winner-take-all prize.

Australia leads the season 2 standings with 32 points, followed by Sir Ben Ainslie's British team with 30 points and Nathan Outteridge's Team Japan with 28 points. The United States, skippered by two-time America's Cup champion Jimmy Spithill of Australia, is fourth with 26 points. France (24), Spain (23), New Zealand (23) and Denmark (22) round out the fleet.

The Aussies struggled in light air in finishing last in Italy. Some races in that regatta, as well as the podium race in Denmark, were sailed with crews of three instead of five due to light wind. The Aussies dominated Britain and Japan in the podium race in Demark.

There could be more light-air sailing this weekend on the Mediterranean.

"I think we're just constantly trying to improve," said Slingsby, an Olympic gold medalist and former America's Cup champion. " We're very open and candid about knowing where other teams are stronger than us and who they are and what we can learn from them and we're just sort of on this constant evolution trying to improve."

Slingsby still sees Ainslie's team as one of the Aussies' fiercest competitors in the fleet.

"If I'm honest, I think Ben is going to be strong," Slingsby said. "He got beaten for the first time at the last event and, for sure, he will come back strong."

Ainslie, a four-time Olympic gold medalist and former America's Cup champion, won the podium race in the season-opening regatta in Bermuda after Slingsby's crew dominated the fleet racing. Ainslie missed the next two regattas to be with his wife for the birth of their second child.

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