Team dynamic

Australia has joined the international high octane SailGP circuit with the announcement of a highly experienced team led by Tom Slingsby.

15 October 2018


The Australian team features some of the nation’s most decorated sailors, including Olympians, Sydney to Hobart alumni and Australia’s most successful Ironman Ky Hurst.

America’s Cup winner, Olympic gold medallist and multiple World Champion Slingsby will drive the F50 class catamaran, with the five strong  team boasting a formidable array of talent and experience.

Fellow Oracle Team USA crewmates Kyle Langford, Sam Newton and Ky Hurst will be on the boat, with Newton and Hurst supplying the specialised grunt to get the spectacular foiling cats around the course. Langford, who recently completed the Volvo on Team Brunel will trim the main wingsail, while Nacra 17 Rio silver medallist Jason Waterhouse will assume the role of flight controller – charged with making the constant adjustments to the high-tech foils that enable the boats to literally fly over the water at the astounding speed of 50 knots.

Slingsby acknowledges the depth of America’s Cup experience in the Australian combination has made them an early favourite in the global circuit featuring what’s being described as the fastest ever inshore sailing boat.


We are going to have serious rivalries with some countries,” Slingsby agrees. “Against Team GBR – it’s going to be like the Ashes on water.”

Australia is the third team to be unveiled of the six team SailGP circuit. Announcements of the French, Chinese and Japanese teams will occur in the lead-up to the first event on Sydney Harbour on 15-16 February 2019.

Kyle Langford says while the bonds forged in the heat of AC racing will give Australia a slight edge it “won’t take long till the guys on the other boats will be up to speed and pushing us along.”

The Australians are also fortunate to be able to call upon one of the nation’s  most extraordinary athletes Ky Hurst, who’s made a successful transition into sailing – his third professional sport.

Hurst relocated to Bermuda with his family for the 35th America’s Cup. His background in surf life-saving ironman lent itself to the gruelling strength and endurance required in his role with Oracle Team USA, but Hurst also quickly became a key team member, taking on a number of responsibilities as well as grinding duties.

And now he’s ready to put the product of his daunting physical training schedule to the test once again. Along the way he’s also re-discovered a childhood love of sailing.

“My grandfather taught me how to sail. Right here on Pittwater,” he recounts. “It’s a team environment, and I was an individual athlete for a very long time, so I have thrived on the team dynamic.

“One of the most enjoyable days I had in Bermuda was when I sat out during changeover and watched. It was … breathtaking.

They (the boats) are incredible machines and you have to see them live out on the water to appreciate that.”


Sail GP’s CEO Sir Russell Coutts 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 enthuses.

We are fully underwritten for the first five years. I think the nation versus nation thing is huge. We’re not allowing the teams to be called commercial brands, but some sponsorship will be allowed on the boats.”

“The rules will be consistent, the branding will be consistent, there will be a pathway to develop a professional arm of the sport.”

For Tom Slingsby, the newly anointed skipper of Team Australia it’s a chance to re-create a new strain of the fever that gripped Australia in 1983.

“I grew-up on the mythology of Australia II’s epic win in the America’s Cup. It was amazing how the public got right behind it. That’s my goal over time – for sailing to re-engage with the Australian public.”

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement