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Smothered in oil!

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 18 Aug 2019 15:00 PDT
Australia SailGP Team helmed by Tom Slingsby nose dive in the closing stages of the second race. - Cowes, Day 2, August 11, 2019 © Thomas Lovelock for SailGP

Must be time to bake, then. Firstly we had The Good Oil, followed by More Good Oil, and so then the only place left to go was to be completely covered in the stuff! With many thanks to both Tom Slingsby and Nathan Outteridge for making yet more time to talk with us, here is their take on where to in the lead up to the big, and final SailGP clash in Marseilles.

Q: I asked Tom to dare to dream, but more specifically, Team AUS manages to overcome adversity nearly all the time - is there a secret to that?

A: There does seem to be a trend starting that we perform well after some adversity. I'm not sure why this is, but I guess it's a good quality to have. Four out of our six sailors were a part of the Oracle comeback in 2013 (Tom Slingsby, Sam Newton, Kyle Langford and Kinley Fowler), so I don't think we are afraid of a fight. It's nice to have, but it's much less stressful if everything runs smoothly into the event.

Q: The last hurdle looms - how do you prepare the entire team for that mentally, as clearly you know how to sail the boat in all weather conditions?

A: Leading into Marseille, the only way we really can prepare is mentally. We will do a small training camp to brush up on skills, but we will be watching a lot of film of previous races, and try and improve our practices by identifying what can be improved in our playbook, communications and strategy.

Q: What has been the most satisfying element to date?

A: I think our ability to deal with pressure has been the most satisfying element. Before racing on Sunday we did not do one tack, gybe, bear away or anything before we had to start a race in 25 knots of wind. We had a comms issue onboard, and could not hear each other through our headsets. This was resolved with just four minutes to go, so to race over to the start and perform the way we did with no practice was a great credit to our team.

Q:I asked Nathan to look ahead to Marseilles. Do you concentrate on the Million Dollar payday, or do you just work on each race to get there?

A: We have always been focused on being as best prepared for the million dollar races. However, in order to do this we must take each race day as it comes, and learn as much as we can. With only a couple of sailing days until this all-important race, we need to draw on all our learnings this season to be sure we can sail at our highest level.

Q: Given GBR, USA, and nearly China all had majors (at Cowes), do you take a lot away from nursing a malfunctioning boat around the track?

I think all the teams had some major crashes in Cowes, which affect everyone's performance and confidence. Some teams suffered more damage than others. We didn't have any major crashes, however suffered significant damage in the first race, and had to nurse the boat around the track for the rest of the day. I'm really proud of the way our team handled this situation and kept the points close with the Australians. We are now in a great position leading into the final event, and can focus on the Match Race against the Australians.

Q: You have not been able to train up members of the crew as you would have liked, but how do you prepare the entire team for the last round mentally, as clearly you know how to sail the boat in all weather conditions?

A: Due to the lack of sailing time we need to rely on previous experience. We have lots of video and data to analyse, so over the next month we will be looking closely at the areas of biggest improvement for us, and also have a very close look at the way the Australians are sailing. We are going to have two training days prior to the Marseille event so we need to create a priority list for those days and hope that the weather is good for sailing.

Q: What has been the most satisfying element to date?

I've been really proud of the way that our team has been responding to adversity on race days. We have had many issues with our boat this season, but it hasn't once dropped the team's motivation or commitment, and to finish second in Cowes despite the damage we had was very satisfying for me.

OK, so there you have it. Russell Coutts always said he thought Marseilles would be his pick of the crop when we spoke with him during Round One. Hopefully there will not be any heinous weather at Marseilles, and all the brouhaha can reflect more on the wonderful first season of a truly great concept.

Right oh - here today there are some gems for you to review like World Youth Match Racing, Cowes, gear from Karver that you can obtain from Any Port Marine, the Ready Steady Tokyo Olympic test event, keeping cool in and with Vaikobi, intel from North Sails including the VO 70 Wizard, the AC of course, the two-handed offshore for Paris 2024 (glad we picked that one a while back), Gosford to host a greater than 20yo regatta, gear from Raymarine, National Sailing League, Moths, IMOCAS, 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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