LAKE Macquarie sailor Kyle Langford has joined teammates from the champion Australian SailGP team for a training session on Sydney Habour.
The Aussie team, led be the Central Coast's Olympic hero Tom Slingsby, launched its 2,400kg supercharged F50 into Sydney Harbour for the team's first official training session on Wednesday.
It marks the start of a grueling training schedule in the lead-up to the SailGP racing on the harbour on Friday and Saturday, February 28 and 29.
The Australian team is preparing to defend its title against an array of international sailing stars, including Lake Macquarie's Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen who are aboard the Japanese boat.
Australia has named the same team who took home the trophy and historic US$1 million championship prize in the event's inaugural year.
Slingsby leads a crew comprising Australia's most successful ironman Ky Hurst (grinder), Sydney to Hobart winners Sam Newton (grinder) and Kyle Langford (wing trimmer), Olympic silver medalist and Tokyo 2020 hopeful Jason Waterhouse (flight controller) and Kinley Fowler (grinder).
Langford, from Coal Point, said he was looking forward to having friends and family from Lake Macquarie on the harbour to watch him racing.
"It's awesome to be able to show them what I do, and what the sport is all about," Langford said.
The SailGP series was helping to redefine the sport, he said.
"We race in enclosed waters. They're the fastest boats in the world. The most technologically advanced boats, and with the best athletes," he said.
"This is sailing at another level.
"These boats are going at 100kph. They're faster than most power boats."
Emblazoned with a giant kangaroo, Australia flag, and green and gold paint, the Australia SailGP team's wingsailed catamaran is the fastest and most technologically advanced class of sail race boat in the world.
The F50 made history last season by breaking the sport's elusive 50-knot barrier, reaching speeds of almost 100kph powered only by nature.
The Australians are determined to stand on the podium at Shark Island for the second year in a row.
However, Australia is set to face tougher competition this year, with new teams from Denmark and Spain joining the championship, alongside a new-look Great Britain team led by the world's most successful Olympic sailor, Sir Ben Ainslie. The new additions take the total number of teams to seven with France, Japan and the United States all returning for the league's highly anticipated second season.
Slingsby said there was a buzz among his team.
"We're really excited to be back in Sydney Harbour, competing and defending the title in front of our home crowd," he said.
"Last year was huge for us, winning Sydney SailGP and the US$1 million championship in Marseille, so there's definitely pressure on us to come out strong and, ultimately, retain the title this season.
"We're just pumped to be back on the water as a team and training this week - with Denmark and Spain joining the league, Ben Ainslie expected to be a huge threat leading the Great Britain team and Nathan Outteridge from Japan trying to get one back on us this season, the competition is going to be strong.
"We have amazing fans and we can't wait to see them out on Sydney Harbour like last year - there's some awesome on-water and Shark Island tickets, so spectators can get right up close to the action."
In 2019, Sydney SailGP attracted more than 22,000 spectators from 25 nations and reached 469 million people worldwide.
Final release tickets are available for both on-water and Island Arena options, starting at AU$87 for children and $125 for adults, at SailGP.com/Sydney.
After Sydney, SailGP will head to San Francisco for the start of the US leg of the league's sophomore season.
- Sydney SailGP will be broadcast live and on demand on Fox Sports 507 and Kayo Sports on Friday, February 28 (3.30-5 p.m. AEDT) and Saturday, February 29 (4.30-6 p.m. AEDT).