Australia dominates a revolutionary competition called “F1 on water”, led by an Olympian who compares himself to Max Verstappen.
You may not have heard it yet, but Australia is dominating a race called “Formula One on water” and will return Down Under next year.
It’s called SailGP and Australia won the first two seasons and is leading the third edition after making an epic comeback to win the podium at the most recent event in Chicago.
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Led by 2012 Olympic gold medalist Tom Slingsby, Australia is once again the winning team in the $ 1.4 million Australian prize, but Slingsby would not have it otherwise.
“I’m enjoying it a bit,” Slingsby told news.com.au about being chased all the time.
“Everyone talks about the pressure on us to win such things, but as I see it, it means we are doing things right.
“To be in this position, you have to do things very well and to have everyone after you, I enjoy that. It shows that we are running our program well, we have a great team, our ability to sail under pressure has been incredible so far.
“I really like that everyone is watching us and we have the target on our backs. “I would prefer it that way than in a different way, because that means we would not be on top, if we are chasing someone else it means we are down, so yes, I enjoy it.”
The SailGP, which has expanded to 10 teams led by the Olympians and the America’s Cup champions, returns to Sydney Harbor in February 2023 as the ninth event in the league calendar.
“We are so excited to be back in Australia and back to Sydney Harbor,” Slingsby said.
“We have already done some events there and it is just growing every year. Obviously Sail GP is a new venture, a new league and many people have never seen it before. But I think the world is gaining momentum.
“In Australia it’s happening slowly, maybe not as fast as these other countries, so it’s great to see the fact that the NSW government and the NSW destination believe in the event and find so much value in the event to lock it in for a “A three-year agreement shows that they really believe in what we are doing.”
The first two seasons of SailGP, as well as the first event of the third season in Bermuda, have been featured in a series of SailGP documentaries available for streaming on Kayo Sports.
With strong personalities and great selfish shipowners, SailGP has been compared to F1 and Slingsby hopes the documentary will have a similar effect to Netflix Drive to survive had at the sport fair to a wider audience.
“As a huge F1 fan, I kind of like the comparison people make,” he said.
“They certainly have a much bigger budget than us at the moment and they are doing a great job at it, but slowly and surely I think we will get there. I guess we shape it from that and I hope that one day we will be able to achieve that.
“But sailing has really come out of obscurity in the eyes of general sports fans and now we are starting to make a real dent. It’s a slow process, but it certainly happens and I’m very happy to be compared to F1. “
When asked which F1 driver he looks more like, Slingsby named Max Verstappen because of his fiery temperament on board and his tendency to win races more often.
“As much as I would like to say that I am Daniel Ricciardo, that is not the truth,” he laughed.
“He is happy all the time, but when the results do not go well, I certainly can not put a smile on my face like him.
“I guess they will compare me to Max (Verstappen). It’s a good comparison in terms of result. He’s probably not my favorite F1 driver, but he’s extremely intense and passionate and angry at the car.
“I think I’m quite similar to that. I may lose my temper if things do not go well. It’s all about the results for me. “I’m very passionate about trying to win races.”
The third season of the SailGP continues when he heads to Plymouth in the UK in late July and Slingsby is confident the Australians can keep the ball rolling for a third straight victory when the season ends next year.
“Sure, we have the ability to (win). “It’s a great season, we are two events in a calendar of 11 events,” he said.
“We have almost a year ahead of us, so we have a lot of games ahead of us. We are in good condition, we are starting well “.
SailGP is getting stronger and Slingsby is enjoying the opportunity to compete with the world’s best sailors on a regular basis.
“We have reached nine boats now, 10 boats very soon,” he said.
“There is talk of going to 16 boats. Either we divide the championship into two, and 23 events a year.
“It’s really exciting. The championship is just growing so fast and we are enjoying it more and more.