Great Britain Driver Ben Ainslie has fired warning shots at Tom Slingsby’s Australia SailGP Team ahead of the T-Mobile United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago at Navy Pier, describing the team’s confidence as a ‘huge motivator’.
It comes after the Season 2 champions triumphed in Season 3’s inaugural event in Bermuda last month, topping the leaderboard after beating Great Britain and Canada in the Final.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the racing this weekend, Ainslie said the British team were ‘quite happy’ with their result in Bermuda but said Australia’s confidence presented a ‘good target’ to the rest of the fleet.
“The Australians - the results do the talking, but at the same time when you hear Tom Slingsby talking about how good they are - or how good they think they are - that’s a huge motivator to try and beat that.”
Slingsby meanwhile emphasised the Australian team’s collective confidence going into racing this weekend.
“Everything we’ve got going on at the moment is really special, the team is confident, the harmony and the vibe in the team is unbelievable - we’re just in a really good moment”.
He added that Australia’s run of luck had made him ‘superstitious’.
“We know it’s not going to last forever and we know we’re going to get beaten”.
Heading into Chicago, Ainslie said the British team have been analysing data on their competitors’ performances, allowing them to ‘pick up the nuances’. “There’s always gains out there and people pushing hard to find those gains”.
However Slingsby said it is ‘easy to look at the data’ and ‘another thing doing it’.
Speaking about Australia flight controller Jason Waterhouse, he said: “It seems people are clued on to watch Jason … he’s extremely talented, his ability is unquestionable and at the moment he has the best results in SailGP - good luck to the other flight controllers trying to match him”.
He added that Australia is ‘watching’ Ainslie’s Great Britain and Phil Robertson’s Canada as key competitors, as well as Jimmy Spithill’s U.S. SailGP Team, who will be looking to impress at their home event.
“We’ve got to keep an eye on everyone but we try to focus on ourselves because we know if we’re sailing well, we’re hard to beat”.