Lake Macquarie sailor Kyle Langford will form part of the first Australian SailGP team, for a radical global racing league set to hit Sydney next summer.
Langford, who recently completed the Volvo on Team Brunel, will return to Australian waters for the inaugural SailGP circuit, which aims to give the America’s Cup a run for its money.
Tom Slingsby – Olympic gold medallist, America’s Cup winner and eight-time world champion – will lead the Australia SailGP Team, which features some of the nation’s most decorated sailors, including Olympians, Sydney to Hobart alumni and Australia’s most successful Ironman Ky Hurst.
The team includes Nacra 17 Rio silver medallist Jason Waterhouse and Oracle Team USA crew member Sam Newton. In addition, Perth sailor Kinley Fowler will serve as the reserve.
Newton and Hurst will be supplying the specialised grunt to get the spectacular foiling cats around the course. Langford will trim the main wingsail, while Waterhouse will assume the role of flight controller – charged with making the constant adjustments to the high-tech foils.
SailGP will give the Australian crew the first chance to represent their country in boats of this calibre. The identical wingsailed F50s are the fastest catamarans in the world, capable of reaching speeds exceeding 50 knots.
“These boats will be a whole level above what we have seen in the past,” Langford says.
“There will be a lot to learn, and we will be working hard to learn as much as we can in the short training time we have.”
Langford says the bonds forged in the heat of AC racing will give Australia a slight edge.
“We have such a tight-knit team. Not only have we raced a lot together, we are also good mates outside of sailing.
“Our previous experience in the America’s Cup will give us an advantage.
“Having said that, it won’t take long till the guys on the other boats will be up to speed and pushing us along.”
The first SailGP event will be held in Sydney and take place on Sydney Harbour in February 2019.
“The opportunity to represent my country again is an extraordinary honour, and the chance to start this campaign on home waters – the best harbour in the world – is something that will make it even more special,” helmsman Tom Slingsby says.
“We’ve assembled not only what I believe is the top of Australian sailing talent, but a team that is 100 per cent focused on making our country, our fans and our sponsors proud to be on the journey with us.
“I’ve seen how national team success can unite and inspire not only sailors but the broader public, and we now have a chance to deliver that.”
Spearheaded by Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts, SailGP has set out to redefine sailing and will bring intensely competitive, inshore racing to fans in Sydney; San Francisco; New York; Cowes, UK; and Marseille, France, as world-class crews compete for the championship trophy and a $US1million prize.
Australia will take on teams from China, France, Great Britain, Japan and the US.
“I’m thrilled to have an Australian team, led by one of the country’s most successful sailors of all time, competing in our groundbreaking new global sailing league,” Sir Russell Coutts, SailGP CEO, says
“Australia has proven time and again that it knows how to put on a show for the world, and we couldn’t have asked for a more iconic and stunning backdrop to host the first ever SailGP race than Sydney Harbour.”
He is very aware of the new league’s need to find and develop an audience – both within and outside the sailing community.
“What we don’t have in sailing is team continuity. What we want to do is create something that operates as a self-sustaining business, after being a great sports competition,” he says.
Jack O’Rourke is a contributor to Ocean Media
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