The Aussies Are Coming, Maybe
Published on October 2nd, 2017
The prospect of an Australian challenge for the next America’s Cup has ramped up following Team New Zealand’s release of the rules for the 2021 regatta.
Australian Tom Slingsby, who won gold in the Laser class at the 2012 Olympics before winning and losing the America’s Cup with Oracle Team USA, says he is dedicating the next 12 months to getting a syndicate together across the Tasman.
“There are a few people I’d love to start a team with. There’s nothing concrete at this stage but we’re approaching potential backers,” Slingsby told mysailing.com.au, rating his chances of success at “better than 50 per cent”.
Slingsby has rented a property in Sydney as his base and believes the early rules laid down by Emirates Team New Zealand in releasing the protocol last week, make an Australian challenge feasible.
He is eager for more details on the new monohull boat due to emerge at the end of November and when the full class rule will be finalised at the end of March, but he believes he can push on in the meantime.
“In all honesty there’s enough information [in the protocol] to allow you to start getting a budget together,” Slingsby said. “I’m pretty sure it [the AC75] will be foiling. Maybe not upwind but certainly downwind in certain wind strengths. We know roughly the size of the crews needed, but that’s not our problem.
“Here in Australia we’ve got enough interest, we’ve got the sailors, the boat builders, the shore crew, the managers. It’s just a question of raising the money and getting the right team together. Now’s the time to do it. I’ve got a couple more [Cup campaigns] left in me. I’d like my legacy to be an Australian team that’s campaigning long after I’m gone.”
Team New Zealand’s move to tighten the nationality rules around crew and boat building mean a potentially strong Australian sailing syndicate although they have been out of the cup design game since 2003.
Slingsby’s confirmed move to Australia is a further indicator that Larry Ellison’s Oracle outfit, a two-time winner of the Cup based largely around foreign talent, might not make the Auckland start line. Australian Jimmy Spithill, who skippered the Oracle effort, is desperate to remain involved in the America’s Cup scene.
An emerging Australian challenge could prove tempting for Team New Zealand’s Aussie skipper, Glenn Ashby, who is yet to extend his contract with the champion Kiwi syndicate.