The SailGP team boats are set to touchdown in Sydney, with crews putting the finishing touches to the these flying machines, set to go head to head on Sydney Harbour.
The first F50s are scheduled to be tested in Australia for the first time on Australian waters this week, as preparations run down to the wire for the inaugural event in Sydney.
The home team for the event in Sydney on 15-16 February has drawn particular attention thanks to the star studded cast that will be carrying the national flag. America’s Cup winner and Olympic gold medalist Tom Slingsby is skipper of the Australia SailGP Team, and has his former Cup team member Kyle Langford trimming the wing.
Ky Hurst and Sam Newton are both also former teammates from the last America’s Cup in Bermuda, and are joined by Olympian and former youth World Champion, Jason Waterhouse.
Skipper Tom Slingsby says his team is looking forward to the first event with excitement, but with a healthy respect for safety as well.
“It’s fair to say we’re all trying to get our heads around how it’s going to work to fleet race with six of these boats. It’s just never been done before,” he said. “For sure we’ll have to ease our way into it. With this type of boat, if you think you’ve got it tamed, it will bite back. So I think we’ll all be feeling our way into it in the first races as we learn when and where we can push.”
And who does he think are favourites for the first event?
“It’s hard to nail down a favourite. We’re all new teams sailing on what are essentially new boats. There’s going to be surprise performances.
On paper you’d probably look to ourselves and Japan as having the most experience, but I’ve seen some of the other teams out training and they’re looking very polished.
“I just can’t wait to get racing in Sydney and then we’ll see!”
It’s easy to see why some might find it hard to bet against the home team, yet a more detailed scan down the crew lists of their competitors provides plenty of evidence to the contrary. Every team has substantial foiling catamaran experience, every team has world championship winners and all have what it takes to come out on top.
When the six national teams were announced on their home soil, there was a focus on choosing national sailors. And when it came to revealing the sailors, the crew lists read like a who’s who of the modern racing world. From offshore heroes to Olympic champions, from America’s Cup victors to youth world titleholders, the talent pool brims with exciting, highly accomplished sailors.
The Sydney race course area will be in the vicinity of Shark Island with racing taking place from 4pm-6pm on Friday 15 February and 3pm-5pm on Saturday 16th. For those at the venue there will be a number of ways of watching the action from spectator boats to the official viewing area on Shark Island. Team bases will be located at Cockatoo Island with a free public viewing area along with free ticketed base tours.