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That other category.

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 8 May 23:00 BST
Tom Slingsby at 2019 Moth World Championship © Martina Orsini

There are plenty of sporting superstars.

Thousands actually.

Then there are those who are transcendent.

In typically laconic Australian style, they are referred to as repositories for books or follower pots.

A ledge.

Truncated from legend, this is rarefied space indeed, and reserved for utter standout performances.

All have names that can just stop you. Phar Lap, or Makybe Diva. Others have pronouns placed before them like the very royalty they are. The Don, whose average was anything but, BTW. Some get adjectives or nouns placed before their first name, and then many a year later, the whole stadium is name after them, which would be Rocket Rod.

Others are just initials. Take S.K. I mean who would have thought pies, beers, smokes and text messaging were part of any training regime? In the end it was just easier to call him, 'Warney'.

You could even become synonymous with the very place that made you famous. RIP Brocky - King of the Mountain.

Some managed to achieve their legend status for shall we say, 'off field antics', even though their on field performances were enough to have them remembered forever. I mean, just how thirsty can one get on the kerosene canary from Australia to England ahead of an Ashes Series? David Boon definitely believed in hydration... Must have mistaken Business Class for Bay 13 at the 'G'.

The late Sir Jack firstly had to build his own cars, then go out and actually race them. The F1 team that bears his name had a very successful run for over three decades, and the brand still adorns cars in other categories to this day.

Mick showed us that you could be a rodeo star on two wheels, in an era when racing with pins, plates, casts, and any number of ongoing repairs was just for the rider, and not the bike!

Consider a certain young lady who won it all, subsequently departed, then came back as a mum, and did it all again. Yes Yvonne, it is absolutely no wonder you and that smile were the inspiration to another number one all these years later, and now Ash is in the very same category as you.

Now some call him Tommy. To others he is Slingers. Personally, I just struggle to get past remarkable. And to think he had to get paid 20 cents to go out and sail with his sister as a young lad on the Central Coast...

He is, of course, Tom Slingsby OAM. Ledge.

Have a look at this:

  • Five-time Laser World Champion
  • One Laser Sailing World Games win
  • Olympic Gold Medal in the Laser
  • Two-time Moth World Champion
  • One Etchells World Championship
  • One D1 Skiff World Championship
  • One America's Cup win
  • Two-time SailGP winner - and back to back no less!
  • Twice been named Rolex Sailor of the Year

Now if you got to put that hand down on the table, it's a fair bet to assume the next thing you would be doing is to reach over with both arms, scoop up all your winnings, and then drag them back over to your seat.

I was able to have a far ranging chat with Tom about all things sailing; AC, SailGP, Aussies everywhere and in every team, as well as the new Star Sailors League Gold Cup (think World Cup for Soccer and you're there), of which he will be the Skipper of SSL Team Australia.

"In signing on with American Magic, clearly my calendar is pretty full now. It's going to be a busy couple of years ahead. Obviously it gets challenging when you take on more projects to be successful. I will have to sacrifice a bit of my one-design yacht sailing, and focus on my foiling a little more for the next couple of years."

Of the knockout style of regatta, Slingsby said, "Well I love the format of the SSL Gold Cup and I'm impressed they have been able to sign over 50 countries to the competition. I'm just proud that JB wanted me to lead his team."

"It's pretty obvious that 90% of our team are extremely successful helmsmen." (The Captain is John Bertrand AO, the Skipper Tom Slingsby OAM, then Mat Belcher OAM, Matt Wearn OAM, Tom Burton OAM, Will Ryan OAM, Kyle Langford, Ryan Godfrey, Sam Newton, and Stuart Pollard. And you can read a bit more about that here in So just supposing...)

"The old saying that a champion team will beat a team of champions is true in my belief, so even though our team has plenty of accolades, we are going to have to come together and gel as one. It's probably going to be our biggest challenge, as there is no shortage of skill onboard", commented Slingsby.

"In my honest, and slightly biased opinion, Australia is the best sailing nation in the world right now. Maybe not in outright medals in Olympic classes, or in the America's Cup, but in outright sailing talent, we're sweeping the world in different teams. I think we have the largest proportion of great sailors out there right now."

Of the many types of vessels circulating these days, Slingsby added, "I love my displacement boats. I think I'm kind of known as a foiler these days, but anyone who knows me well, knows that I love my one design yacht sailing, and it's where I learned a lot of my skills as a young guy moving up. So I'm looking forward to it."

"I have sailed a two full seasons in the RC44 with two second places at World Championships as Tactician. Unfortunately, we didn't get the win, but I know the boats pretty well. It will be interesting to see how much it has changed with them now being the SSL47."

Did someone say Legend?

So what does another Olympic and America's Cup Living Legend have to say about him? Well, this is what The Great Man, John Bertrand AO, thinks about one Tom Slingsby. "Andrew (Doggy) Palfrey introduced me to a young Tom Slingsby in 2009 as we were preparing for the 2010 Etchells World Championships in Ireland. Tom was our Laser rep at the Beijing Olympics."

"A quiet shy kid, he didn't have a good regatta at the Olympics. He wanted to make amends. So he joined our team, replacing none other than Ben Ainslie who had other plans...namely to win an America's Cup! Big shoes to fill!"

"Our new team went onto win the Etchells worlds in Howth. The following week Tom decimated the fleet to win the Laser Worlds in Weymouth. He was then anointed the 2011 World Sailor of the Year!"

"Tom achieved Olympic Gold at the 2012 Olympics."

"So how good is the kid? Really good. Tom has the natural ability to see and sense the incoming wind and wind shifts. All part of growing up on the Brisbane Water, right in front of Gosford. Nearby, other greats were also at it: - Jimmy Spithill, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen."

"Tom has developed the art of both fleet racing tactics, and match racing tactics to an extremely high level. His results on the world stage are so good he is now World Sailor of the Year for the second time."

"His current domination of SailGP against the world's best is almost unprecedented. His team building and leadership skills are such that his team members through thick and thin love this man. Yes, the kid from Gosford is doing good."

"Last year when I accepted the role of Captain, SSL Team Australia, it became clear this was no ordinary regatta. Starting this month, teams from 53 nations will start a long elimination process between now and November to determine the top two nations for a final one race shootout. Nine person teams; nation versus nation; racing in SSL47s, a development of the highly successful RC44 class; the world's absolute best will be competing."

"We have incredible world class sailing talent in this country, but as Captain, my choice of skipper was 2022 World Sailor of the Year Tom Slingsby."

"Under SSL Gold Cup rules, selection of team members is based both on world rankings, and so called 'captain's choices' to balance out the sailing team."

"Tom and I collaborated together in the selection process. As a team, we will have limited practice time, but our strength will be our depth of racing experience. Personally I won't be racing on the boat, that's Tom's role."

"The SSL Gold Cup, to be held every four years between Olympic cycles is a grand vision. Very different to any world championship, SailGP, or indeed the America's Cup. It is squarely aimed at sailors, for the sailors, on a global scale. To have 53 nations with nine person crews competing in the inaugural event is already an amazing achievement", concluded Bertrand.

The brave new world has begun. And how, it would seem. To anyone doing anything from a midweek OTB jaunt to a transoceanic passage we simply say, YeeHaa. Do your prep, keep a weather eye at all times and push off...

So let's go for a yacht. Indeed!!! Meanwhile, stay safe, and thanks for tuning into Sail-World.com

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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