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North Sails 2021 Innovation - LEADERBOARD

SSL Gold Cup - life on board an SSL47

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 16 Aug 17:47 PDT
2022 SSL Gold Cup - Team Australia and Team Switzerland © John Curnow

So you think you're up to it? OK. No problem. However, you might want to contemplate the following.

SSL Gold Cup Team Australia is not the only crew filled with stars, by any means. However, it is the one with the most, which is why they are ranked Number One. John Bertrand AO as Team Captain, then Tom Slingsby OAM, Mat Belcher OAM, Will Ryan OAM, Tom Burton OAM, Matt Wearn OAM, Kyle Langford, Ryan Godfrey, Sam Newton, and Stu Pollard comprise the crew.

Cherry picking is the only way to get through such a collective CV, for all are World Champions, at least once.

Four have won the America's Cup: Bertrand, Slingsby, Langford, and Newton. Three have won both seasons to date of SailGP: Slingxby, Newton, and Langford. Ryan Godfrey is a three time World Champion, took out the Volvo Ocean Race on Ericsson, and was on board when Comanche set her World Record for the 24 hour run of 618nm and change. Stu Pollard was on the same boat that holds the current Sydney Hobart record, and has two World Championships to his name. The skipper has ten World Championships in no less than four very different styles of boat. Mat Belcher is Australia's most decorated Olympic sailor, ever!

Dinghies and skiffs to supermaxis, inshore, offshore and RTW, and they have well over 35 World Championships amongst them on top of all the records and so forth.

Now there are six Olympic Medallists, five of them Gold, and Mat Belcher has two, so I guess that actually makes it six Golds. The last three Laser Gold Medallists are part of the crew (Slingsby, Burton and Wearn). Will Ryan collected Silver in Rio, and came back to get Gold in Tokyo. He's ultra-efficient, and fantastically personable, but when it comes to the group bike rides, most think he's trying to stitch them up a treat, in terms of kilometres travelled, and metres ascended. It would seem that Langford is the Miguel Indurain of the group BTW.

Obviously being ranked number one brings pressure, something this groups knows a lot about. However, the overarching thing I heard when talking with all of them was that when they got the call, the answer was a complete no-brainer. All in, and that brings motivation, which is what will be required to take this thing out.

When you get to the videos below, trainspotters will note that it is Dave Gilmour wearing Matt Wearn's Jersey on board. Gilmour's quite the handy replacement, having won Kiel Week in the 49er, and in 2015 was the World Match Racing Tour Card Holder.

Matt Wearn said to me, "I'm fine with people knowing the facts. I have long-Covid symptoms that need time to settle and recover from, so that I can be back on the water ASAP."

As an Editor's note, I have to say that you can really tell how much Matt wanted to be here in Switzerland, to sail with such an auspicious crew, and to have a red hot go at collecting the inaugural SSL Gold Cup.

So having digested all that, and courtesy of the SSL Gold Cup Team Australia Coach, the brilliantly gifted, and super-friendly Ben Durham, along with the blessing of the entire crew, we have two short snippets of what it is really like.

Our thanks also to #sailnjord for their brilliant analytics that combine video from multiple sources with real time telemetry and course overlay, all time synced, to provide the definitive debrief tool for everything from skiffs to TPs, Maxi72s to SailGP foilers.

Working Uphill

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