Sitting down with Tom Slingsby
Published on December 8th, 2022
Series Four of Shirley Robertson’s Sailing Podcast continues in fascinating fashion as double Olympic gold medalist Shirley Robertson sits down with one of modern sailing’s most decorated athletes, multiple World Sailor of the Year Tom Slingsby.
In the wonderfully diverse sport of competitive sailing there can be few athletes whose accolades are as wide ranging as this Sydney born Australian.
At just thirty eight years of age, he boasts an unprecedented roll call of success that includes an Olympic Gold medal, an America’s Cup win, two Moth World Titles, two SailGP titles, multiple Laser world championship wins; he’s even won line honors in both the Sydney to Hobart and Middle Sea Races.
It’s an incredibly diverse list of titles, all stemming from one resolution made as a fifteen year old boy watching the 2000 Sydney Olympics…:
“I was down there (at Bradleys Head) every day, and just seeing the Olympic arena, I just, in that moment, watching that final where Michael Blackburn took bronze and Ben Ainslie match raced Robert Scheidt to gold, I said right then and there that I want to be a part of this arena.”
That moment was the catalyst to a remarkable, and still ongoing career. But it wasn’t always easy. Slingsby’s honest and candid account involves deep disappointment and harsh lessons at the 2008 Olympics, before moving on to detail the extraordinary lengths he went to, along with coach Micheal Blackburn to make sure he would prevail at the London Games of 2012.
This is a fascinating two part interview, in which Slingsby gives the listener a sometimes intimate account of life as a successful twenty first century professional sailor.
From the decision not to defend his Olympic title, Robertson and Slingsby move on to his America’s Cup career, and the much discussed 2013 San Francisco Cup which saw Slingsby help Team Oracle USA to the remarkable, and much documented comeback against Emirates Team New Zealand.
Regular podcast listeners will have heard the story from many of the key players from that 2013 Cup, but this telling is perhaps the most revealing.
Slingsby’s memories of the comeback are recalled from the perspective of the then rookie young America’s Cup sailor somewhat overawed by his surroundings and the characters around him. His memories of the initial losses and the awkward meetings that followed are insightful and revealing, a must-listen to all fans of the modern Cup era…
“I was getting yelled at by Russell Coutts, and I still remember sitting there thinking ‘I can’t believe I’m sitting there with these legends, Grant Simmer, Jimmy (Spithill), Ben Ainslie, Russell Coutts’; I remember I was really in awe!”
What follows is a fascinating discussion on the dramatic turnaround of 2013, who made what decisions, and how the match was finally won.
From the America’s Cup to SailGP, the displacement Laser dinghy to the foiling Moth, Slingsby’s talent has seen him become one of the most applauded sailors of his generation. Getting a glimpse inside the mind of the man that’s created such success makes for a truly fascinating two part podcast and is a must listen for any modern day sailing fan.
Shirley Robertson OBE made history by becoming the first British woman to win Olympic Gold Medals at two consecutive Olympic Games. Shirley Robertson’s Sailing Podcast, produced and edited by Tim Butt of Vertigo Films, is available to listen on her website or via most popular podcast outlets, including iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcast, and aCast.