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Slingsby insists Aussies 'still confident' heading into ItalySGP despite Bermuda defeat

26 APRIL 2021News

The Australia SailGP Team remains confident of its ability to beat anyone in the SailGP fleet despite a painful defeat to Great Britain in the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess.

Despite winning four of five fleet races over the event to sit top of the leaderboard heading into the Final - a huge 13 points ahead of fellow Final qualifiers France and Great Britain on 36 points – the Aussies were beaten by Ben Ainslie’s team in the winner-takes-all podium race to end the weekend in disappointing fashion.

Slingsby has now lost to Ainslie in each of the two SailGP events featuring both skippers, and his hunt for revenge – spoken about ahead of racing in Bermuda kicking off – must continue into the second event of Season 2 in Taranto.

With the visit to Italy scheduled for the start of June, Slingsby and his team have slightly over a month to work out the Aussies’ gameplan for beating the Brits should both teams once again qualify for the Final.

And while there is tactical work to be done, Slingsby insists there will be no lack of confidence amongst his crew in the second event of the campaign.

Speaking after the Brits' success on the Great Sound, Slingsby said: "We've got a confidence heading into Taranto.

"We sail so well when it's stronger wind, and for sure we want to keep developing our lighter-air sailing, but we've now got the confidence - with these hot squads around the fleet with such amazing sailors - that when we are on we are hard to beat.

"We proved that a couple of days ago, we proved that today, and I'm really happy we've got a squad that can beat anyone in the world on our day.

"That's a really good confidence booster. Only us and Ben have that confidence moving forward, and the other teams have to prove it to the world and themselves that they can beat us on our day as well."

Having sailed so well over the five fleet races, Australia’s performance in the Final came as something of a surprise.

Slingsby discussed the podium race showing and revealed boat issues prevented a serious challenge by the Aussies.

“We had a few boat malfunctions in the last race,” added the Sydney native, “but Ben was ahead of us when these happened. We were right on his tail and then had some issues with our board going down.

“I'm not going to say it's the reason he beat us as he was in the lead, but it let him get that additional distance on us which helped him win the race.

"Hats off to the Brits, they sailed amazingly when it counted, but I feel like our team sailed amazingly and consistently the whole way through."

The 36-year-old also believes Great Britain’s victory was all but assured between the start of the race and the first mark.

He continued: "I think we hit the start line a meter behind doing 48/49 knots so we couldn't really ask for a better start, and then it was a game of who was going to get to the first mark first.

"We were so close to rolling Ben numerous times; there was one point there when we needed a meter or two to get around him and we were set up for it with an extra bit of gust, but we were already going 48/49 knots and we just cavitated.

"The boat just wouldn't accelerate and it started shaking, so the extra bit of wind - which in any other conditions would have allowed us to roll him - didn't allow us to roll him because we cavitated and the boat didn't accelerate.

"That gave Ben the advantage; if you don't get clear of him by that first mark when the boats bear away, he becomes strong. He was able to hold us there to the boundary and didn't infringe us, and from them on it was a close race but we weren't able to overtake."