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Somebody is paying attention

Published on July 14th, 2022

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
The efforts to increase the popularity of sailing as an entertainment sport, such as the America’s Cup and SailGP, won’t succeed until the athletes are more recognizable. This is not unique to sailing, as whatever sport you follow, your interest deepens when you have an interest about the people on the pitch.

There is a notable story in America’s Cup lore of a certain sailor whose self-assessed commercial worth was being challenged. To settle the debate, the ‘Grand Central Station Test’ was suggested.

The terms of the test was if the sailor could stand in the center of this major railroad terminal in New York City, and be recognized, his commercial worth would be confirmed. While it is unclear if the challenge occurred, it makes the point.

Whether progress is occurring in sailing is unclear, but a couple recent mainstream press stories indicate somebody is paying attention.

The Irish News reported how celebrities were out in force at the Wimbledon men’s singles final, noting how Top Gun star Tom Cruise was among the crowd on Centre Court. However, a row ahead of Cruise, and captured in the photograph, was none other than Sir Ben Ainslie, the world’s most successful Olympic sailor.

But Australian media went big time with Olympic, America’s Cup, and SailGP champion Tom Slingsby in a report about his blossoming romance with former Bachelor reality star Helena Sauzier (above photo). They even quote Slingsby’s pal Nathan Outteridge, himself an Aussie sailing icon.

“Tom is finding a very good balance at the moment,” said Outteridge. “I can see him growing as a person a lot and as good friend of him, I’m glad to see his new relationship going well and I think that’s had some positive effects on him this year.”

As for Slingsby, he is looking forward to someday taking the Grand Central Station Test. “Sailing has really come from obscurity to the general sport fan’s eyes and we are now starting to making a real dent,” he said. “It’s a slow process but it’s definitely happening.”

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