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by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 18 Nov 2018 13:00 PST
F50 in sea trials off the Northland coast - October 2018 © Beau Outteridge

It's a bit like barrelling into the bottom mark doing about 25 knots in a blow, and you have to set up for a Mexican. Only thing is, the boats we are talking about do something like twice that speed, and it was not so much the kite that we are going to talk about, it is the now quite short runway.

The terrific SailGP has Sydney as its first event, and that is in February. From the fifteenth to be precise, and the boats are going in the water at the end of January. Only thing is, there is Christmas to consider, some holidays, and the other race that captivates the nation, the Hobart, and Australia Day, all jammed in between. So it is fair to say that they could well be a bit GABO (Got A Bit On).

So after a longish period of speculation by many a soul, a little while ago the future of the cats from AC35 was announced. It was kind of all flagged well before the Bermuda event, however. So it is good to see that Larry opened up the chequebook and went for it, committing to two years of the global, OD, national crew (except for the 'emerging' countries of China and Japan), compact venue style spectacle. I sort of feel like we should all be saying thank you, so herewith is my public acknowledgement.

Tom Slingsby, who will be driving the AUS entry, said, "It's great that Sydney is the first event for the new SailGP. Obviously these boats are the fastest sailing boats to ever come to Sydney, and it's a tight racing course, but I think it will show what an amazing natural amphitheatre Sydney Harbour can be for sailing."

"We have been completing our training session in New Zealand for our team. We are getting very limited on-water time before the Sydney event, realistically only about 10 days maximum, so we need to make them count so that we come out strong against these other teams."

"Having these boats as One Design will be great. We have seen them as development boats, and now to have them all identical will be amazing. We all know One Design racing is much more exciting for spectators, so I'm sure we will have tight racing, with plenty of lead changes."

"The F50 concept is great. The problem with (this sort of) sailing in the past has been that it bursts into the public eye with the Olympics and the America's Cup every four years, and then disappears again. This will keep sailing in the spotlight year-round, and show new fans the level of technology, courage, and skill it takes to race at the highest level. This will bring sailing to the public in a whole new way," said Slingsby in closing. Joining Slingsby are Kyle Langford (Wing Trimmer), Jason Waterhouse (Flight Controller), Ky Hurst (Grinder), and Sam Newton (Grinder).

In a way, SailGP has already been a bit of success. The Chinese and US teams have done their time on NZL, the Aussies and the Brits are happening now, so that leaves France, and the yet to be announced Japanese team, to hit the water. I would fully expect that there will be some Aussies in the crew for the latter, BTW. Of course, there is also the simulator in London for them to hone their F50 skills on.

Christy Cahill, the Director of Communications for SailGP, said of it all, "We are acutely aware of how close the Sydney event is, and the fact that there are holidays in between as well. Whilst it is still all-new, we have a lot of people with us from the AC days, so at least we are not coming in as a back marker."

"Being such a new concept has its challenges, and Sydney is the proving ground for it all. We think it will be very well received, and Sydney will also be pretty unique, as we are really aiming to get people out on the water in either their own craft, or one of the ticketed vessels. In some ways Sydney could well be better than the other locales (San Francisco, New York, Cowes and Marseilles)."

"So yes, we are having a big push for experiences we will provide. The Sydney fan village will be a bit different, with concessions, VIP locales, and obviously a focus on the beautiful water that forms the Harbour. Shark Island, and what a spot that is, will be right in the middle of the course. Our Technical Base will be on Cockatoo Island, and we will have tours for that too." You can find out about it all: sailgp.com/races/sydney

Cahill - who is not a sailor - said, "The more I get into it, I know this will work. We had all the good parts come over from the AC campaigns and now we can go annually with many of the restricting rules aspects removed. Commercially, we are starting on the right track, for without Larry we would be in a very different position, but we have great partners already, and there are big, global, powerhouse brands wanting to get involved. Some are even new to sailing, so we will talk about those in due course."

"So yes, we are starting on the right track as we build to profitability, and not rely entirely on Larry. The aim is to bring it to a new audience, for we really do think sailing can be more mainstream. The F50 will be the F1 of the water!"

"I have had the fortune to go to New Zealand to see the F50s. They are great and really impressive. Our content that is coming out is terrific, as we build to live broadcast. They operate at crazy speeds, so having six of them on the track, as opposed to just the two, will be really impressive. Talking with the sailors, you get to understand how exciting and interesting it will all be."

"Remember, it is virtually highway speed in your car. The races will be around 16-18 minutes each, with three on the first day, then two more, and a final match race, so around an hour on the water for each of the two days. We have had to re-work the foils so we can operate in a wider range of conditions, as indeed were quite a few other elements. We are launching with the AC50 wings, but there is a new layer of tech coming down the line, so the OD will be shifting over time," said Cahill in closing. About all I can add is see you on the water in February...

Now someone who knows a thing or two about foiling is Glenn Ashby. He just won the A-Class AUS Championship with six bullets from seven guns, and as a result, had a 12-point buffer in the end. It is made even more impressive due to the names astern of him: Burling, Bundock, Brayshaw, Brewin, Heemskeerk, Tuke, Bulka and Noetzel. The Worlds are now under way at Hervey Bay, so this will be something good to look at this week.

Right oh - here today there are some gems for you to review. We have information about the trials and tribulations that has been the Route du Rhum, the Golden Globe Race, Hall of Famers at the CYCA, gear from Musto, RC44s, St Barths, Farr40s at RPAYC, Santa coming to Southport, F101, the 18s, news from Tassie in the lead up to the big bluewater events, Zhik's new 900 Seaboot, Finns, 13 and 16 foot skiffs, Flying Fifteens turn 71, the grand olde dames known as 12m, and certainly there is much, much more.

Remember, if your class or association is generating material, make sure we help you spread your word, and you can do that by emailing us. Should you have been forwarded this email by a friend, and want to get your very own copy in your inbox moving forward, then simply follow the instructions on our newsletter page, where you can also register for different editions.

Finally, keep a weather eye on Sail-World. We are here to bring you the whole story from all over the world...

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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