Australia targeting perfect start to SailGP title defence
Champions Australia will be keen to put down an early marker when they launch their bid for a hat-trick of titles during the season-opening Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess.
Tom Slingsby and his team-mates have won the first two instalments of the global sailing league; a streak they are determined to extend.
“Our goal is to win, but we also do have a lot of talented teams to race against with some of the top sailors in the world on board,” Kyle Langford, the team’s wing trimmer, told The Royal Gazette. “With the training that we have planned over the next few days, we feel that we have taken the right steps to keep an advantage over the other teams."
Australia have taken advantage of a range of conditions to test various set-ups on the boat since their arrival on island.
“We had our first day of training on Sunday, which went really well,” Langford added.
“It was top end with the small wing and the gusty breeze.
“Monday we will still had a lot of breeze and we were using the medium wing and light-air boards, so we had to be careful not to capsize the boat and cause any damage.
“We saw during last season in San Francisco when we capsized how one wrong move in training can cause significant damage to the boat and can really impact your ability to train for racing."
Much of the team’s emphasis during on board training this week has been on the starts, which Langford believes will be a key factor.
“With more boats on the racecourse the starts are going to become even more crucial because it's going to be harder to work your way through the fleet,” he said.
“For us, a big part of our training is to work on our starts because we need to be at the top of the fleet on mark one."
Langford is no stranger to the island having been a member of defender Oracle Team USA during the 35th America’s Cup in 2017.
“We are really excited to be racing here,” he added. “It's one of our favourite venues and feels like a second home to us because so many of our team lived here during the America's Cup.
“Bermuda has great sailing conditions with flat water and, with two new teams on the start line, it's going to be even tighter."
Phil Robertson, the Canada SailGP helmsman, agrees.
“It is hard to find a better location for these boats,” he said.
“The Great Sound is super flat so we can really find the limit of the boat without much consequence. “It makes the learning a lot easier, so we have progressed well. The warm water and stronger breezes this time of year is perfect.”
Switzerland and Canada, the newest additions to SailGP, were the first teams to begin training exercises on island last month.
Great Britain, Denmark, France, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the United States are the remaining teams that will compete for the title and one million in prize money up for grabs during the season.