Gosford Olympic sailor, Tom Slingsby, made history on September 22 when he led the Australia SailGP team to victory over Japan in the SailGP Season 1 Championship finale.
The global league’s inaugural season culminated with a 10-minute match race between Australia and Japan, in which Australia secured the trophy and US$1M in prize money in dramatic fashion.
The stakes for the big race were unprecedented, with the prize pool the largest monetary prize in the sport of sailing, and the SailGP Championship trophy is a creation of Thomas Lyte, regarded as the world’s leading trophy maker.
For Slingsby, there was also a personal stake, with childhood friend and long-time sporting rival, Nathan Outteridge, captaining the Japanese side.
“We deserved it and I’m so happy for our whole team as the amount of work they put in was huge.
“We said going into today that we were going to win as a team or lose as a team,” said Slingsby.
“I am happy with the way it went but those guys were unbelievable competition all year and it was such a close battle,” Slingsby said.
Race analysis determined that the final duel came down to a mere 78cms at a crucial moment on the racecourse.
If the Australians had been five-hundredths of a second slower, Japan could have forced them to incur a penalty.
It was a risky play by Japan in an attempt to force Australia off its course that backfired and allowed Slingsby to move into the lead and ultimately take the win.
Japan led for the majority of the SailGP Season 1 Championship Final Race after being given the upper hand from the start when Slingsby took a penalty for entering the start box early.
“We made one error and that’s what happens.
“You can’t win everything and for every winner there is a loser.
“We knew someone was going to walk away unhappy,” said Outteridge.
“It’s a shame it’s us, but that’s sport and we will just get ready for next season,” he said.
The championship battle has been awash with drama since the season began in Sydney last February.
Slingsby established himself as the one to beat from the beginning, winning the Sydney, San Francisco and Cowes events with Outteridge challenging him in each event’s final match race.
SailGP has had an exceptional first season, with capacity crowds in all five of the iconic cities that hosted events during Season 1.
An estimated 115,000 people flocked to cheer on their favourite teams at competitions across the globe.
“Congratulations to Tom Slingsby and the Australia SailGP Team.
“What an amazing performance,” said SailGP CEO, Sir Russell Coutts.
Media release, Sep 23