Driver and CEO of the Australia SailGP Team Tom Slingsby has opened up about his failure to secure any major sponsorship deals and claimed the two-time defending champions could be ‘on the chopping block’ in the future.

Speaking on Shirley Robertson’s Sailing Podcast, Slingsby reflected on the league’s decision to drop Season 2 runner-up Japan from Season 3 after the team failed to receive any financial backing.

Season 3 // Spain Sail Grand Prix // Tom Slingsby at mixed zone

Looking back at the beginning of SailGP, Slingsby said: “The orders from Russell [Coutts, SailGP CEO] was that at the end of the first five years, you’ve got to be commercially sustainable - we had targets.”

However, SailGP has ‘progressed a lot quicker than we expected’, he said, resulting in a glut of perspective, commercially independent teams approaching the league. "SailGP can’t build boats fast enough,” he said.

Season 3 // Dubai Sail Grand Prix // Close up of Australia F50

“I know the rules, Nathan knew the rules - we all do,” he said. “We’re all under pressure […] Nathan unfortunately was the first one to succumb to that pressure.”

He opened up about his own struggles to secure financial backing for the Australian team, describing it as a ‘tough’ task.

On the water, the Australia SailGP Team is dominating Season 3, sitting top of the overall championship leaderboard with 60 points and securing five podium finishes so far.

Season 3 // United States Sail Grand Prix Chicago // Australia celebrate

But in-between SailGP events, Slingsby’s ‘full time role’ is to secure sponsorship. “I can’t tell you how many thousands of hours I’ve spent trying to get sponsorship and I haven’t been able to do it yet,” he said, adding that his efforts have resulted in ‘some small sponsors’ but ‘nothing major’.

“It’s extra frustrating because we’re getting such good results on the water and you wonder who wouldn’t want to be associated with the team that’s never had any scandals, never had any bad press - we go out there, we represent our country with honor, we’re good people, we’ve got great personalities on the team - why can’t we get sponsors?”

Season 3 // Dubai Sail Grand Prix // Tom Slingsby in Dubai

Despite the team’s on-water success, the Australia SailGP Team is not immune from being cut from the league, Slingsby said. He added that the team has been ‘saved’ for ‘the time being’ by the New South Wales government signing on as the official host venue partner of the Australia Sail Grand Prix in a three season deal.

“Fortunately for us Russell [Coutts] is viewing the Australian event and team as one, and the money that comes in as total, not separate,” Slingsby said.

Season 3 // Dubai Sail Grand Prix // Australia and Great Britain in Final

Despite having the ‘luxury’ of the three-season agreement, Slingsby said he ‘by no means thinks [he’s] safe’.

“We need to get some owners to buy the team or bring in some serious sponsorship dollars or 100% we’re on the chopping block,” he said.

However, he was optimistic about the future of the team. “We’ve got a lot of talks going on and a lot of great discussions with some companies - we just need some to drop and the future of the Australia SailGP Team will be sealed.”