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Who is Tom Slingsby?

Tom Slingsby, 34, is sailing royalty. With lots of prizes under his belt, including four America’s Cup, Olympic sailing, and five time Laser World Champion, Tom is the definition of passion for sailing. This year, he is the skipper of the Australia SailGP team.

One afternoon, after training for the Sydney event, Tom was kind enough to walk us through his experience with sailing. Here is what we found out.

Reporter: How did you end up sailing in competitions?

My dad was a professional sailor, so it runs in the family. I remember watching the Sydney Olympics down on Sydney Harbour, and falling in love with it. That was the moment when I decided to be a professional sailor. Before that, I was a professional tennis player at a very young age. When I quit tennis I just threw myself into sailing. For me, competition is something that drives me through my life. I want to win events.                                                                            

Reporter: What's the hardest part of being in a yachting race?

Yachting is very tough. We're dealing with Mother Nature on the race course and so nothing is predictable. We have to deal with wind shifts, tides, storms. Anything the elements can throw at us -- we got to learn how to deal with that. It's very different running on a track everyday where you know you have to set a certain time. Our times during the race track often differ but it's all about beating your competitors around that track and dealing with the conditions that are thrown at you.

 Reporter: How do you cope with losing and what motivates you to train harder and go further

(Laughs)

It's safe to say I'm not very good at coping with losing. I hate losing more than anyone you will ever meet. It's easy to get frustrated, but you got to turn that feeling into positive reinforcement to move forward and to use the lessons learned. There's often a saying in sport: you don't lose, you learn.

Reporter: What's the most rewarding part of sailing?

The environment. Here, we are sailing at Sydney Harbour. We will then sail all around the world in beautiful locations. It's just a sport that is very unique and you have to learn to adapt. And I think that's great!          

Reporter: I guess it's pretty special to be in Sydney, your hometown and family here etc.            

Yeah, having the inaugural event of SailGP in my hometown with all my friends and family watching is very humbling. I hope I won’t be nervous when I get to the start. It's a proud moment, that's for sure.                          

Reporter: What is your training routine?

My training routine often involves a lot of gym work and time on the water. Now I also do a lot of admin and working on developing a team, hiring, so there's a lot behind the scenes I'm part of.      

Reporter: Tell me about your role in the team and why it is so crucial?                                                 

I'm the CEO and skipper of team Australia and that’s a new role for me. It's tough, you got to be across all aspects of your area on your boat, the fitness, the sailing, the skills involved, but also developing the company, developing the business, developing the brand and create a team who can win on the water and off the water. It's a tricky aspect but I'm enjoying the challenge.         

Reporter: What are the potential hazards of the race?

There is some potential for crashes and spills out on the track but we're doing our best to keep the boats in one piece. They are very fast boats, very dangerous, and we need to make sure we're at the top of our game to make sure that doesn't happen.

Reporter: What do you think of the organisers choosing B&G for the wind sensors?    

I think B&G are going to be a great fit for the F50s, these are the highest performing sail boats in the world so they need very reliable equipment. B&G has proven to be it time after time. It's going to be an exciting partnership.            

Reporter: Do you sail for fun? What sort of equipment do you use?         

I do sail for fun. I love getting out whether it's a race or whether I'm out on a high performance boat just having fun with my friends. I use all sorts of equipment. B&G is always a top choice on my boat. 

Reporter: How is sailing on a F50 compared to other sailing vessels?                      

Sailing on a F50 is different from any other sailing boat, there's no doubt about it. But once you learn how to sail the boat and get through all the technical aspects, it goes back into sailing, wind on water, tactics with other boats, positioning yourself to get better wind than your competitors. A lot of people say that what we're doing now is not sailing. I can guarantee that the people who win this are the best sailors because they have been able to adapt to this sort of racing. Once you get through this aura of this new class of boat and how fast you are going, it's wind on water, competitive sailing at its best.

Reporter: Solo racing or team?                                                                 

Both are great. I think if I could choose to do it all, I would. I've been very fortunate to compete in the Olympics as a solo athlete and now I'm part of a team and if you got a career is good to tick off both. 

Reporter: Who are you when you step on land?

When I step on land, I think I'm pretty relaxed, I love chilling out with my friends. I love other sports, I do a lot of other sports. In general, I think I'm a very calm, collective guy but on the water I'm pretty cutthroat.

Reporter: Who inspires you to sail or race? Do you have a role model?

I have a role model in all successful sports people -- Roger Federer and how he carried himself out throughout his career. He’s inspiring to me. So successful for such a long period of time, but still he's not caught up in controversy, he's respectful to everybody, he doesn't have a go at reporters or journalists, he's the epitome of what a true sportsman should be and that's what I aspire to be like.

Note: Since the interview, Tom has proven his passion and talent for sailing once more by leading the Australian team to victory at the Sydney SailGP. All of us at B&G congratulate him and his team mates. Keep it up, guys!

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