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Emirates GBR prepares for action in Sydney ahead of KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix

by Emirates GBR SailGP Team 23 Feb 09:05 GMT 24-25 February 2024
Emirates GBR prepares for action in Sydney ahead of KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix © SailGP

The Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team is preparing for action ahead of the KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix on the iconic Sydney Harbour. It will be the second event for Giles Scott as Driver, and its set to be the heaviest wind conditions the 10 teams have seen in a while.

With Friday's practice racing cancelled amid forecasted thunderstorms, teams are eager to get out racing on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday's forecast of 25-30 km/h winds, gusting to 37 km/h, means Sydney will be the first heavy wind event of Season 4 so far. Scott said it was "unfortunate" practice racing was called off, but he was looking forward to sailing in some stronger winds on Saturday, after light conditions at his debut in event in Abu Dhabi.

"To be honest, this event very much feels like my first event," Scott said.

"In Abu Dhabi, the conditions were tricky, we sailed for four days and I'm not sure we foiled once. I'm very much looking forward to tomorrow, Sydney Harbour is so iconic and famous for its sailing so I can't wait to get out there. Hopefully we can turns some heads this weekend."

The Sydney SailGP event is a milestone for Emirates GBR, as it marks the beginning of their brand new internship programme with The Greig Academy. The Academy is a school in the London Borough of Haringey that supports students access sailing. Greig Academy Teacher Jon Holt expressed to Emirates GBR how difficult it was to find long-term paid internships in the marine industry for students and the team wanted to help change that. Emirates GBR and The Greig Academy have worked together to create a programme that is more accessible to young people, and also covers their travel, accommodation and expenses.

The first intern from this new programme is Kai Hockley, an 18-year-old from Tottenham, London, who won Young Skipper of the Year at Cowes Week in 2023. Despite his success, there was a lack of opportunities available to Kai in the marine industry. Kai has joined Emirates GBR in Sydney for the KPMG Australia SailGP and has been working with the team's shore crew to gain experience in boat handling, maintenance and all that goes into preparing an F50 for racing.

Emirates GBR CEO Sir Ben Ainslie said: "We are all excited at the potential of our new internship programme and it's great to have Kai with us in Sydney. We want to make these development opportunities much more accessible to a wider group of people and we hope this internship programme will help level the playing field for young people accessing the industry."

Kai Hockley said: "I've been having a great experience so far, all of the team members are very welcoming and I'm learning a lot. The scale of it is different to anything I've done before. I'm super excited to be here in Sydney and also heading to Christchurch with the team, I haven't been to Australia or New Zealand before so the opportunity is outstanding."

The Emirates GBR crew has been busy since touching down in Sydney, with Grinders Neil Hunter and Nick Hutton joining the Royal Australian Navy for an intense training session on Bondi Beach on Wednesday. The powerhouses of the Emirates GBR F50 foiling raceboat took part in a range of workout drills involving bootcamp-style bear crawls, tyre flips and team relays. They were joined by athletes from four other SailGP Teams - Australia, Germany Switzerland and the United States.

Hunter said: "Putting us through a brutal workout is one way to welcome us to Sydney, but it was epic training with the Royal Australian Navy. The Emirates GBR SailGP Team is super excited to be back racing in Australia and we will welcome the navy team to our base anytime for a SailGP workout to return the favour."

After recovering from the grueling workout, Hutton visited SailGP's Local Impact Project, The Sydney Seahorse Project, to help install habitats for the marine species in Sydney Harbour. The habitats will support the release of a minimum of 300 endangered seahorses back into the harbour. This would likely increase local populations in the area by 200%.

The KMPG Australia Sail Grand Prix kicks off on Saturday 24 February, with racing continuing on Sunday 25 February. The Emirates GBR line-up consists of Giles Scott as Driver, Hannah Mills as Strategist, Luke Parkinson as Flight Controller, Iain Jensen as Wing Trimmer, Neil Hunter and Nick Hutton as Grinders and Hannah Diamond as Reserve Sailor. UK fans can watch the action on a delayed broadcast on ITV4 at 00:55 on both days.

For all the latest news and updates, visit Emirates GBR's website here.

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