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America’s Cup: Defender adapting to island life

Published on April 16th, 2015

While the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda won’t see action until 2017, defender Oracle Team USA is already calling the island their home for the next two years.

Tactician/helmsman and sailing team manager Tom Slingsby has assembled the crew in Bermuda this week as the team continues to build its base at Dockyard and prepare for sailing at the beginning of May.

“Pretty much all of the guys on the sailing team are here now,” Slingsby says. “At the moment we’re helping the shore crew to get things set up, unloading containers, getting our offices set up and next week we’ll start putting the boats together. We’re still targeting May 1 for the first sail in the AC45S.

“We also have some sailing team meetings scheduled to plan our sessions next month. We’re hitting the gym – and the beach – in the mornings and we might get the Foiling Phantoms (18-foot, foiling catamarans) out next week to get out on the water here for a little sail before the AC45S is ready.”

Slingsby says it’s good to have the crew working together again even if one face is noticeably absent from some of the heavy work.

“Jimmy’s rehab has happened to come at quite the perfect time,” Slingsby said, laughing. “He tells us he can’t move his arm just as we’ve been put to work packing up San Francisco and setting up in Bermuda. It’s funny how he arranged that schedule!”

The team is still adjusting to the new America’s Cup Class rule voted in by the teams recently. But Slingsby says that while there are implications for the design process, the impact on the sailing team is minimal.

“It doesn’t change too much for the crew,” he says. “We’re very happy with the guys we have. Our sailors are very dynamic and everyone can step into different roles on board, so the new America’s Cup Class won’t make us adjust too much as a sailing team. The way we sail the boat will be different, but in terms of the people we have, we’re confident in our sailors.”

And he says the transition to Bermuda has been an easy one for the team to make as well.

“It’s been unbelievable how friendly and helpful everyone is. We’re surrounded by crystal-clear waters, we have beautiful weather. We wake up, we go to the gym, we run on the beach, we go swimming, we head to the base and get to work. It’s amazing. We’re very happy to be here and very fortunate this will be our home for the next two years.”

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