Oracle Team USA tactician says it’s all to play for as qualifiers begin.
Oracle Team USA tactician Tom Slingsby believes the America’s Cup is wide open as the event qualifiers get under way in Bermuda on Saturday.
Slingsby will be aiding helmsman James ‘Jimmy’ Spithill to call the shots as Oracle bid for a hat-trick of victories in the event.
And after some tight tussles in practice racing, Slingsby told the event’s official website: “I think it’s really up in the air. If you can win the start and sail cleanly without any mistakes, even with a slight speed disadvantage to another boat, you’re going to be hard to beat.”
Like many teams, Oracle have endured fluctuating fortunes in that recent spate of practice races.
And Slingsby believes that mixed bag of results across the board was an indicator of how close the battle for the Auld Mug, the oldest trophy in world sport, will be.
“There are a couple of teams who are moving pretty fast,” he added. “Emirates Team New Zealand and Artemis Racing are going nicely, while SoftBank Team Japan had a good race beating Artemis Racing.
“So between ourselves, Emirates Team New Zealand, Artemis Racing and SoftBank Team Japan it’s a close race. The person who sails the best is going to win.”
Oracle Team USA get the event under way against Groupama France, one of the new teams for 2017 in the fleet, on Friday.
And Slingsby is confident that the defenders are good enough to beat anyone they face on the water.
He said: “If we headed into the America’s Cup with an even boat, the same boat spend and even conditions then I’d be happy with our chances going against any team.
“It’s going to be exciting whoever we race. It will come down to the sailors and the designs of the boats. No one is going to walk away with it so we’ll see.”