Slingsby and Outteridge have almost 30 years of history between them making their relationship one of the most dynamic on the racecourse.
Tom Slingsby and Nathan Outteridge are walking through the Alameda Technical Compound side-by-side, smiling in conversation. Walking through the boat park together is a regular occurrence for the two athletes, they’ve been doing it for over 20 years. But this time, they part ways, headed to two different sites, and two different teams.
At eight years old, Slingsby and Outtridge were rigging their Sabots side by side on Lake Macquarie and not long after that, they were both sailing for Team Australia in the Olympic Program and often rooming together at events. They went to two Olympic Games, and in London, they both won gold medals in their respective classes.
Now, they’ve reached the very top level of their sport as helmsmen on the most advanced, out-performing catamarans in the world. With only three points between them on the leaderboard, the two childhood friends are pitted against each other, with Slingsby at the helm of the Australia SailGP Team and Nathan heading up the Japanese team.
“It’s a friendly rivalry, there’s nothing I want more in the world than to kick his ass, and I’m sure it’s the same towards me, but we are both good people and will always be friends at the end of the day,” says Slingsby.
It’s hard not to notice the similarities between the two skippers, their shared coaching and similar upbringings have given them common values. Both skippers are calm and collected, and their focus shows on the water.
“We have a very similar thought process to how one might win racing and how one would approach trying to run a team or motivate people. It’s quite interesting when we race each other because you have an idea of what the other person is thinking,” said Outteridge.
Slingsby attests to this, “We are both extremely calm. It takes a lot for us to get flustered. We are not the sort of people that before competition are pacing and stretching. We know what we have to do, and the hard work is done in the lead up to an event and the day of competition is about being loose and relaxed.”
The stakes are high on the SailGP racetrack, but it hasn’t affected the pair’s close relationship. With shared data between all of the teams, there are no secrets. In interviews conducted separately, they spoke to the others strengths. The mutual respect they have for each other is evident on the race course and off.
“Tom is a very focused and determined person. He has high expectations of himself and everyone around him. The thing with Tom is you can’t ever underestimate him.” Outteridge spoke to Slingsby’s character, “I can guarantee on Saturday and Sunday when we race, he will bring his A-game, and that’s what we need to be prepared for. We can’t hope they will make mistakes to win, we have to race against them at the best that they are, and I think we will have a very close race. “
“Nathan’s biggest strength is his ability to sail high-performance boats, and tactically on a racetrack when the wind gets shifty and puffy, on a foiling boat, he’s unbelievable, and he’s done it for so long.” Slingsby said of Nathan, “He’s very intuitive, and if we come into a tricky situation together I’m going to be watching where his eyes are looking and why he’s looking there.”
As far as racing on San Francisco Bay goes, which team will dominate is a toss-up, but regardless of the outcome,you can expect to see Outteridge and Slingsby continuing to support each other’s careers for a long time to come.