This isn’t yacht racing as you know it. At the KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix | Sydney, being held on February 18-19 2023, state-of the-art F50 catamarans slice up Sydney Harbour, hydrofoiling a metre above the waterline at up to 100 km/h. As the hottest race event of the Sydney summer approaches, Australia sits in first place on the season three leaderboard — following a nail-biting win in Dubai — and is ready to battle once more with eight other nations in a bid for its third consecutive championship.
Australia SailGP Team driver and CEO Tom Slingsby gives us the inside word on how to get the most out of the hottest summer event on Sydney Harbour.
Get your tickets to the red-hot racing down at Sydney Harbour from February 18 to 19 at sailgp.com/sydney The KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix | Sydney is supported by KPMG, the New South Wales Government through Destination New South Wales and Genesis.
Tom, you’ve been the driver for Australia Team since the first season in 2019. How has the series and sport evolved?
We started with six teams and five events and are now at nine teams and 11 events, with more growth planned. Seeing how big the events are getting in the host cities, we now have huge crowds and a large broadcast viewership. It’s been a huge change.
Why should people come to Sydney Harbour on February 18 and 19 to check out the racing?
It’s a combination of the international competition and state-of-the-art technology as these identical F50 catamarans go head-to-head in close-to-shore racing. We also have the top athletes of the sport competing in these teams, so the level of racing and skill is epic.
Where’s best to watch the action?
Genesis Island on Shark Island is the best place to watch from land. It’s located right in the centre of our racecourse, so you get to see the boats all ripping around you and it has a great party vibe, with food hampers and a bar. Or you can watch from a boat chartered from Adrenaline Yachts. Wherever it is, bring an Aussie flag with you. We really love to see fans waving them from boats or on land.
While the race is the main attraction, is there more to the weekend?
The “pit lane garages” let you get an up-close look at the catamarans in 45-minute tours that are guided by experts and sailors. There’s also the SailGP Village in Barangaroo where you can watch the boats fly by and sit in Q&A sessions with the athletes.
SailGP takes you around the world. Which international port is your favourite and why?
Obviously Sydney Harbour – there was something very special about competing here last year, we could hear the roars and support. It’s my favourite stop. If I had to choose another it would be Bermuda. I lived there for a few years, so going back to its crystal-clear water and friendly faces is always something I look forward to.
How important is winning on Australian waters?
It’s really important. Not just to me but our team as a whole. You can bet we are very focused on a repeat victory for the Aussies on Sydney Harbour in February.
Catch all the action on Sydney Harbour from February 18 to 19. Get tickets at sailgp.com/sydney The KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix | Sydney is supported by KPMG, the New South Wales Government through Destination New South Wales and Genesis.
Image credit: Marley Hole