Tom Slingsby, Australian Olympic Laser Gold medalist, and member of Oracle Team USA, has signed up as skipper of Oman Air, one of two Oman Sail Extreme Sailing teams, for the final act of the Extreme Sailing Series in Sydney, Australia (11-14 December).
Slingsby from New South Wales will replace Rob Greenhalgh, the British sailor and former Extreme Sailing Series winner, who is taking time out to race the VO65 MAPFRE on the second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi.
With five Laser world championship titles to his name, a gold medal at the London Olympics, and an America’s Cup win – as strategist aboard Oracle Team USA in 2013 – Slingsby will bring a vast array of knowledge to the already strong Omani team.
Although this is Slingsby’s first time on an Extreme 40 he says he will do his best, with the aim to strengthen the game plan for next season’s world series.
So far this season the team has made steady progress with their best result, a 4th overall in Istanbul. Slingsby and his four-strong team, including America’s Cup sailors Joey Newton, Kyle Langford, and Ted Hackney (Kyle and Ted are regulars on Oman Air), plus leading Omani sailor Ali Al Balushi, will focus on boathandling and speed while trying to improve on their current 8th position overall in the series.
Commenting on his debut into the class, Slingsby said: “I was happy to be invited to sail for Oman Air for the final event in Sydney. It’s a great opportunity to sail catamarans in a high quality fleet, and hopefully I can help move the team up the ladder.
“Because of my other racing commitments however, I’ll only join the team for one practice session beforehand, but I have sailed with a few of the crew before, so I'm hoping we can gel as a team fairly quickly.”
Also new to the Extreme Oman Air team is Ali Al Balushi replacing veteran Omani Extreme sailors Musab Al Hadi and Hashim Al Rashdi, who are stepping off to concentrate on their 49er Olympic campaign.
Al Balushi – a former footballer before he took up sailing in 2010 – is a solid member of the Oman Sail offshore squad and one of the core crew members on the Oman Sail Tour de France a la Voile and EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour squads. Commenting on the forthcoming high-intensity stadium racing in Sydney, Al Balushi said: “I am very excited at this opportunity to be sailing with such high calibre sailors on Oman Air and learning from some of the best in our sport.”
Oman Air crew – Act 8
Tom Slingsby (AUS) – helmsman/skipper
Joe Newton (AUS) – bow/float
Kyle Langford (AUS) – traveler
Ted Hackney (AUS) – trimmer
Ali Al Balashi (OMA) – bow/float
Oman Sail's second Extreme Sailing team onboard the defending champion The Wave, Muscat also has a crew change going into the final event of the season with previous teammate, Ed Smyth, stepping back in to replace Kinley Fowler due to an injury.
The Wave, Muscat crew – Act 8
Leigh McMillan (GBR) – helmsman/skipper
Pete Greenhalgh (GBR) – traveler
Nasser Al Mashari (OMA) – bow/float
Sarah Ayton (GBR) – tactictian/float
Ed Smyth (NZL/AUS) – trimmer
– Oman Sail