Tom Slingsby and his mates have perfected the routine by now. They pose with the Australian flag as their catamaran bobs gently in the swells and then spray each other with Champagne after another victory.
Slingsby and Team Australia did it again Sunday on Lake Michigan off the Chicago city front, barely making it into the podium race and then expertly sailing their “Flying Roo” foiling 50-foot cat well ahead of Canada and Britain to win the United States Sail Grand Prix.
The two-time defending SailGP champion Aussies claimed their fifth straight victory and seventh in the last eight regattas over two seasons in tech mogul Larry Ellison’s global league. That winning streak includes their Season 2 championship and $1 million ($A1.4m) prize in March on San Francisco Bay.
The crew loaded with America’s Cup and Olympic veterans finished dead last in the fourth fleet race in light breeze on Sunday and then won the final fleet race to sneak into third place overall and a spot in the podium race by just one point over trans-Tasman rivals Team New Zealand.
Once in the podium race, Slingsby exhibited his mastery by grabbing controlling position at the start and sailing well ahead of Canada’s Phil Robertson and Britain’s Sir Ben Ainslie in the first freshwater regatta in SailGP’s three seasons.
“A day in two halves,” Slingsby, an Olympic gold medalist and former America’s Cup champion, said.
“We came dead last in the first race and thought our chance of at least making the final was over, let alone winning. And then we go on and win the next race, sneak into the final. Everything played out well. The Kiwis had a bad race, we overtook them and got third and then the last race, we just got around mark one and that was everything.”
It was the same order of finish as in the opening regatta of Season 3 in Bermuda last month.
Slingsby, a fierce competitor and redhead nicknamed “The Red Mist” for his temper while helming the boat with the giant yellow kangaroo on the wingsail, knows the winning streak will end at some point.
Just not yet.
The Aussies will put their streak on the line again in Ainslie’s home waters off Plymouth, England, on July 30-31.
“The result went our way but I think it’s pretty clear to see we’re not invincible,” Slingsby said.
“Luck went our way a little. The guys performed well under pressure, which I know they well, and we were able to sneak out of that one. But yeah, that’s getting too tight for us.
New Zealand finished fourth overall in the Chicago regatta, followed by France, Denmark, Spain, the US and Switzerland.