By Olivia Hogan
Australia SailGP Team driver and CEO, Tom Slingsby is back behind the wheel of the Flying Roo following a temporary leave of absence, as his crew dominates day one of practice in Abu Dhabi
ABU DHABI, UAE – 12 January 2024 – Tom Slingsby has rejoined the Australia SailGP Team for the seventh event of the season, with the Aussies battling light air conditions in the final day of practice ahead of the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council. This marks the second of SailGP’s back-to-back UAE events as the 10-strong flying F50 fleet prepares to battle it out on the iconic Mina Zayed for the first time on January 13-14.
The event follows the Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix in December, which saw a dramatic three-boat-wide race to the finish line, as New Zealand pipped Australia and Canada to claim the victory.
Leading the league by 11 points and continuing their journey to the four-peat, three-time defending champions Australia are eager to secure their first win of the season and retain their place at the top of the Season 4 Championship leaderboard.
Speaking on his return, Slingsby said he was thrilled to be back in the driver seat for the green and gold after missing the Dubai race for the birth of his first son, Leo.
“It’s great to be here in Abu Dhabi. I’m looking forward to competing in uncharted waters for the first time and delivering some strong results. The team is in fine form and we each have a newfound fire in our bellies to finish first, having come so close to winning last month.”
“We’re preparing for a light weekend, and the caliber of racing we saw in Dubai showed how exciting light winds can be. You can have a spectacular event even in lighter venues which, in sailing, no one thought could be possible,” Slingsby said
“We’ve been sailing unbelievably this year. We have a big lead and we are thankful for that. The win will come and hopefully it’s this weekend, especially as it’s our last race before we return to home waters for the Sydney event.”
Tom Slingsby also put the younger SailGP drivers on notice at the press conference, when asked if it was time for Ben Ainslie and Jimmy Spithill to retire to allow the next generation to compete in the league.
Tom Slingsby said: “To be frankly honest, I think a lot of the younger generation haven’t stepped up to the plate as much as they could have and they’ve got to prove it. Jimmy and Ben are in their mid 40s and were still winning SailGP events consistently and most of the new, young generation driving in our league haven’t won an event in SailGP.
“When you’re the next generation, you’ve got to prove why you’re the best in the world and knock us old guys off the perch. The new guys have the opportunity, they’re out there and have a boat to drive in SailGP, the top sailing league in the world, and they’ve got to take that opportunity with both hands or they’ll be replaced.”
Watch all of the action live from Abu Dhabi on Fox Sports and Kayo Sports this Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 January from 9pm AEDT.
Looking ahead to February, the Australia SailGP Team will return to home waters for the KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix I Sydney for a record fifth time on 24-25 February 2024. Tickets are selling fast for the not to be missed event of the Australian summer at SailGP.com/Sydney.
January 13–14 Mubadala Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council
February 24–25 KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix | Sydney
March 23-24 ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix I Christchurch
May 5-6 Bermuda Sail Grand Prix
June 1-2 Canada Sail Grand Prix
May 6-7 Mubadala United StatesSail Grand Prix | New York
July 13-14 SailGP Season 4 Grand Final | San Francisco
Olivia Hogan, Head of Marketing & Communications, APAC