Great Britain is being spurred on by its close rivalry with the Aussies and preparing to ‘turn it on for the home crowd and bring it home’ in Plymouth, according to Driver Ben Ainslie.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of practice racing, Ainslie said the combination of the home crowd support and the team’s rivalry with the Australians was a ‘huge motivation’.
“We want to be racing against the best talent and Tom's [Slingsby] team have been really turning it on at the end of last season and into this season.”
However, Ainslie warned that ‘all teams have the ability to win events’ after the nine strong F50 fleet hit the water for the first time ahead of racing on Thursday.
“Yes, we’ve got some rivalries and it’s good to have that motivation but any of these teams can come out and win events,” he said.
Australia driver Slingsby agreed that his team ‘love playing up the rivalry’.
“Competing against Ben and his team, you know you’re competing against the best and we’re excited to race here again.”
He added that the venue, which played host to Australia’s triumph on British waters in Season 2, brought back ‘fond memories’ for the team.
However, Slingsby admitted the team’s long running winning streak is ‘going to come to an end’.
“Whether it’s this weekend or the next event - it’s going to happen,” he said. “When that happens, we’ve just got to concentrate on we rebound and build the team - we don’t want to fall off the cliff like we have in the past.”
Citing the ‘unique venue’ of Plymouth Sound and the weekend’s gusty conditions, Ainslie said the weekend would show “SailGP at its best”.
“We have this natural amphitheatre in Plymouth and the breakwater keeps relatively flat water. The forecast this weekend is really going to turn it on with some good breeze.”
The current forecast projects wind speeds of 19 km/h with gusts of 41 km/h on Saturday and 24km/h with gusts of 44 km/h on Sunday.
However Ainslie, who hasn’t raced in Plymouth since he was a teenager after missing on Season 2’s Great Britain Sail Grand Prix, admitted he is ‘down on experience of racing on Plymouth Sound compared to the other sailors’.
“The sailing we’ve seen in the last few events has been really tight and we should expect more,” he said.