Sailing: Six big names to watch out for at the Singapore Sail Grand Prix

The SailGP teams (from left) Spain, France, Britain and Denmark during a practice at East Coast Park on Thursday. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - The inaugural Singapore Sail Grand Prix will take place on Jan 14-15 at East Coast Park.

Singapore is the first South-east Asian country to host a leg of the SailGP hydrofoiling series in 2023 as part of a three-year deal.

SailGP is into its third season this year, and will see some of the world’s best cataraman sailors taking part.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the big names.

1. Jimmy Spithill (USA)

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James “Jimmy” Spithill is one of the most recognisable names in the world of professional sailing.

He won two World Championships (2005, 2010), and captured the America’s Cup twice. The first time was with BMW Oracle Racing in 2010 and the second with Oracle Team USA in 2013, when his team came from seven points down to win 9-8 in the final match. That was the largest in-series comeback in America’s Cup history.

Fun Fact: Spithill grew up in Pittwater, a small town north of Sydney which was surrounded by water. This meant he could only access his home by boat, making sailing an everyday necessity.

2. Tom Slingsby (Australia)

Tom Slingsby was a professional tennis player in his youth before “falling in love” with sailing while watching the Olympics at Sydney Harbour in 2000. PHOTO: PATRICK HAMILTON/SAILGP

Tom Slingsby is the driver and CEO of the Australian team, and has led them to victory in both the first and second season of the SailGP championship.

He won nine World Championships from 2006 to 2019, and in 2012 he won the men’s laser gold at the 2012 Olympics in London. He was also part of Team Oracle USA in 2013, which Spithill led to America’s Cup glory.

He was a professional tennis player in his youth before “falling in love” with sailing while watching the Olympics at Sydney Harbour in 2000.

Fun Fact: Slingsby holds a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

3. Ben Ainslie (Britain)

Ben Ainslie, CEO and captain of the Great Britain SailGP Team. REUTERS

Ben Ainslie is the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, having won four Olympic gold medals and one silver.

He also claimed 11 World Championships from 1993 to 2012. In addition to that, he was also part of Team Oracle USA in 2013 which won the America’s Cup.

Fun Fact: Ainslie was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2008, following his third Olympic title. In 2013, he was given the title of Knight Bachelor for his services to sailing.

4. Hannah Mills (Britain)

Hannah Mills, strategist of the Great Britain SailGP Team, giving a tour of the technical base to guests of SailGP Inspire ahead of the US Sail Grand Prix in Chicago on June 17. PHOTO: CHLOE KNOTT FOR SAILGP

Hannah Mills, also part of the Great Britain team, is the most successful female sailor in Olympic history. She won two Olympic gold medals in 2016 and 2021, and one silver medal in 2012. She is also a three-time world champion. In 2016, Mills won the Female World Sailor of the Year award.

The Singapore Sail Grand Prix will be Mills’ return to competitive action. She last competed in October 2021, taking a break to become a mother. She gave birth in October last year to her daughter Sienna.

Fun Fact: Mills is also dedicated to environmental sustainability, and was made Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2022 for her services to sailing and the environment.

5. Peter Burling (New Zealand)

Peter Burling (left) and Blair Tuke are co-CEOs of the New Zealand SailGP team. PHOTO: LLOYD IMAGES

Peter Burling is the joint CEO of the New Zealand SailGP team alongside his long-time sailing partner Blair Tuke.

With Tuke, Burling won six World Championship titles, one Olympic gold at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, and two silver medals in 2012 and 2021. Individually, Burling also claimed two world titles in 2006 and 2007, and a championship in the International Moth in 2015.

Burling was named Rolex World Sailor of the Year in 2015 alongside Tuke, and in 2017 as an individual.

Fun Fact: At six years old, Burling had his first boat, an Optimist. By age eight he was competing, and qualified for his first World Championship when he was 11 years old.

6. Nathan Outteridge (Switzerland)

Nathan Outteridge is the co-driver and sailing adviser of Switzerland SailGP Team. PHOTO: BOB MARTIN/SAILGP

Nathan Outteridge is the new sailing adviser and co-driver of the Switzerland team, but he is not new to SailGP. Formerly, he was the driver and CEO of the Japanese team.

He won an Olympic gold at the 2012 Olympics alongside Iain Jensen, who is part of the Great Britain SailGP team. At the 2016 Rio Games, he won a silver medal with Jensen. Outteridge is the owner of 19 world championship medals.

Fun Fact: Outteridge also enjoys kite surfing and windsurfing.

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