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Australian SailGP team lead the pack on final day of practice

by Olivia Hogan 14 Feb 10:24 GMT 15-16 February 2019
All six F50 catamarans together on the final day of practice. Event 1 Season 1 SailGP event in Sydney Harbour, Sydney, Australia. © Bob Martin / SailGP

Australia's SailGP team and their revolutionary F50 were unleashed on Sydney Harbour today for the final day of practice before racing commences tomorrow, for the inaugural Sydney SailGP.

The Aussies were joined on the water by rivals China, France, Great Britain, Japan and USA, as the identical 2,400kg supercharged catamarans competed in practice fleet and match races.

It was a good day for the Australians, led by skipper Tom Slingsby, who triumphed in a practice race and topped the overall scoreboard.

But it wasn't all smooth sailing for the home team, with Slingsby saying the day's performances showed that anyone could win, come race day.

"Today was the final practice before the event kicks off tomorrow and we had a really good day. I think we probably performed best, we had the best scorecard in fleet racing and we sailed really well," Slingsby said.

"But when we were paired up for a match race with USA they beat us comfortably, which shows that anyone can win on the day. That was humbling and means that if we don't do the small things right, we won't get the results we know this team is capable of.

"I kind of wish today was race day one so we'd have some nice points going into race day two, but that's okay - it all restarts tomorrow and we have to perform."

The stage is set for the world-premiere SailGP race in Sydney, kicking off in one of the most iconic harbours in the world in under 24 hours.

Slingsby, leading the Australian team in front of a home crowd, said he was excited to fly the green and gold tomorrow.

"I'm incredibly excited to be representing my country on home waters tomorrow," he said.

"It's going to be an amazing spectacle on Sydney Harbour over the next two days and hopefully we can give the home crowd the dream result we all want."

The F50s are the fastest and most technologically advanced class of race boat in the world, capable of reaching speeds of up to 100kph (50+ knots). They have taken more than 135,000 man hours equal to 67 years to produce and were transported from Whangarei, New Zealand, to Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour in January.

Sydney SailGP will take place 15-16 February in Sydney Harbour. Tickets for a variety of exclusive spectator experiences are still available for the world-premiere SailGP event at SailGP.com/Sydney.

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