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Ten teams ready to race in Sydney


Yacht Racing Podcast

With just one day remaining until the highly awaited KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix takes place on the picturesque waters of Sydney Harbour, anticipation builds across the fleet as the most exciting racing on water looks set to live up to its name as the teams get ready for a record fifth appearance down under, this weekend, February 24-25.

The eighth event of SailGP’s Season 4 gets underway following the crowning of Peter Burling and the New Zealand SailGP Team as winners of the UAE – securing back-to-back wins at the last two events in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Consecutive wins bump the Kiwis up to second place in the overall championship standings – closing the gap to a mere six points behind reigning champions and home team Tom Slingsby’s Australia.

This weekend Burling misses the action to welcome the birth of his first child. Stepping in is the fleet’s familiar face Nathan Outteridge – who took to the driver’s seat of the ROCKWOOL Denmark SailGP Team in the absence of Nicolai Sehested in Abu Dhabi last month. Pressure rests on the shoulders of Outteridge and the New Zealand team to deliver a solid and skilled performance to remain on the podium.

Outteridge said: “It’s a great opportunity for me to sail with a good group of people that I know so well, but also to try and get some really good points for the team. In Abu Dhabi, I didn’t quite manage that for the Danes. I seemed to bump into Tom at the back of the fleet and so I’m hoping to bump into him at the front of the fleet this weekend.”

The Aussies sit on top of the overall leaderboard despite not winning an event this season, but Slingsby and the Flying Roo are poised to harness the energy of home support – gunning for a season-first win and hoping that the familiarity of the race course will give them the upper hand. Also benefiting the Aussie team – who has seen a consistent crew since Season 1 – could be the fact that Official Practice Racing was canceled due to thunderstorms in Sydney. This meant the only teams that got any practice were the two teams that hadn’t raced on Sydney Harbour before – Erik Heil’s Germany and Taylor Canfield at the wheel of the new-look US team.

Slingsby said: “It’s unfortunate but we need to take the right precautions if we have thunderstorms coming – SailGP as a league is doing that and I commend them for it. It’s unfortunate that we can’t get out there and train today but it’s probably the right call. We’d prefer that they [Germany and United States] weren’t as well, but that’s just the way it is. Sydney is a tough venue. There’s a lot of islands and channels and markers out there – I think it’s fine that they’re out there learning the venue.”

In Abu Dhabi, Slingsby made a number of bold statements alluding to the fact that the younger generation has yet to step up and provide competition on the water – even though the Aussies found themselves finishing in seventh place – missing the final for the first time this season.

The fleet’s youngest driver Sebastian Schneiter of the Switzerland SailGP Team received the brunt of Slingsby’s accusations – with the team sitting in last place after seven events.

Schneiter said: “Honestly it was pretty painful to watch that documentary, for sure we don’t want to be in that position, we want to be able to challenge Tom and all the top teams much more than we are right now. It’s maybe hard to read my emotions but we’re working really hard on it and we’re not being complacent and we’re really hungry. It’s extra motivation for this weekend and we can thank Tom for that.”

For those tuning in from any of the 212 territories that SailGP is broadcast in, viewers will witness a refreshed look and feel to the global sporting league’s broadcast production, with a new, dynamic opening sequence and new-look LiveLineFX augmented reality graphics.

LiveLineFX paints a picture on viewers screens by providing critical race elements to help with understanding the high-adrenaline racing for both sailors and non-sailors alike. The refreshed look and feel will be on display in the homes of viewers across the globe this weekend.

As part of the roll out of this updated industry leading technology – additional educational features will be presented in the broadcast including turn maneuvers, start line analysis, athlete personalities and more. This is the first phase with further updates to come over the remainder of the global sporting league’s Season 4 and beyond.

Main image © Simon Bruty