America's Cup - Oracle Team USA Update: 'We’re in a racing phase'

Oracle Team USA will be training in Sydney, Australia
Oracle Team USA helmsman and sailing team manager Tom Slingsby says the emphasis for the sailing team is on racing as crew members have scattered to the four corners of the world competing on some of the top racing circuits in the sport.

The team is scheduled to reconvene next week in Sydney, Australia for its second training camp, and a new American sailor will be on board.

'This next camp we’re going into a bit of a racing phase, sailing against Team Australia like we did last time, but with more of an emphasis on racing,' Slingsby said. 'We’re going to be trialing out Matt Cassidy, an American sailor, who has been a world champion in RC44s, TP52s and on the match racing tour. We’re excited to have him along and to see where he fits in.

'Most of the guys have been doing a lot of racing since the last camp in March. Kyle (Langford) and Kinley (Fowler) are racing on the Extreme 40s this week in China, for example.

'We’re such a young team, and by no means are we experts in all areas of sailing, so I really promote that the guys get out and do some sailing with the top guys they can find.

'Sailing in the Extreme 40s or doing other professional sailing, lets us learn from some of the legends in our sport and bring that knowledge back to the team,' Slingsby said. 'For myself, I’ve been doing some tactician work on yachts in Australia and just last week at the last RC44 regatta in Cascais.'

This week Slingsby stopped in California on his way back to Sydney from Cascais. He joined the design team for one of its first brainstorming sessions.

'All of the teams have just received the latest draft of the Class Rule this week so we’re taking a look at that to think about where we can focus our efforts. We’re penciling in how we think we might be able to maximize the boat, what kind of instrumentation we’ll need, what kind of roles we’ll have on board, those kind of things.

'When the Class Rule is finalized, it looks like it’s going to be a tight design rule, so all the teams will have the same wing geometry and very similar platform shape which means the boats should be very even,' Slingsby said. 'I don’t expect big differences in speed. I predict it’s going to be very close and I think that’s a good thing in terms of making a really exciting series of races for the sailors and the spectators alike.

'For myself, I love one-design sailing (Tom has an Olympic Gold Medal in the Laser Class) and I like the idea of pitting my team up against all the best teams around the world. The designers might not agree with me on that! But what we’ve done is go half way in between. This isn’t the wide open design space we had in the past, but it’s certainly not fully one-design either,' he added.

'I back our team against anyone in the world, so I’m pretty happy with the way this is shaping up.'

Oracle Team USA will be training in Sydney, Australia from May 6-14.