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Sunday, April 18, 2021

EXCLUSIVE: Lake Macquarie sailor Kyle Langford named in Australian team

He may be embracing newfound parenthood overseas these days, but representative sailor Kyle Langford still calls Lake Macquarie “home”.

The talented 31-year-old was this week named in the Australian team to defend its championship title in the second season of SailGP.

Olympic gold medallist Tom Slingsby unveiled his line-up on Thursday 8 April, a squad consisting of returning athletes Langford (wing trimmer), Jason Waterhouse (flight controller), Sam Newton (grinder) and Kinley Fowler (grinder/flight controller).

Nick Hutton will join the Australian outfit as a grinder, replacing Ky Hurst who has stepped aside to spend more time with his family in Australia.

The troop also includes the two successful candidates from the Australia SailGP Team female development program, Olympic silver medallists Lisa Darmanin and Nina Curtis.

Langford, who’s competed in multiple America’s Cup campaigns, was delighted to receive Slingsby’s approval once again.

“It’s a great opportunity to represent Australia and the area I’m from (the Hunter),” he said.

“We’re racing against the best in the world.

“Winning the inaugural SailGP title wasn’t easy and, I guess, we sort of set the bar.

“However, the level of competition this time around is so much higher.

“We’ll be facing teams from New Zealand, who won the latest America’s Cup crown, the USA and Great Britain.

“I think going into the first event, we’re the underdogs.

“But, we want to be competitive and, obviously, win.”

Langford and his colleagues will fly out to Bermuda later this week, ahead of the SailGP opener on 24-25 April.

The expanded season two calendar also features six other events, in Taranto, Italy (5-6 June); Plymouth, Great Britain (17-18 July); Saint-Tropez, France (11-12 September), Cádiz, Spain (9-10 October); Christchurch, New Zealand (29-30 January, 2022) and San Francisco, USA (26-27 March, 2022).

It welcomes Denmark, France, Japan and Spain, along with Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand and the United States, to the fold as well.

If that wasn’t enough, the Grand Prix finale will include a single $1 million winner-takes-all decider.

“That’s the beauty of the competition – it’s country versus country – with so much on the line,” Langford said.

“We’ll try to execute what we’ve learned and make the 10 days of training (in Bermuda) really effective.

“I’ll admit, it will be a tough assignment.

“Most of those crews are coming off the America’s Cup.

“Despite COVID-19, they’ve been racing at a high level for almost 12 months, while the rest of us have been in lockdown.

“That’s a huge advantage [to them].

“And, let’s not forget either, they are also really good sailors.

“So, we’re extremely motivated to beat those guys.”

Langford, who was born at Belmont, said Lake Macquarie played a massive part in his development as a sailor.

“I have such great memories,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“I’ve been fortunate to travel all around the world, however Lake Macquarie is still my favourite place.

“It’s a perfect, naturally-protected area.

“I honed my craft there.

“I was always sailing as a youngster; and attended sailing school at the Toronto Sailing Club at the age of four.

“In fact, I wouldn’t take no for an answer, so my older brother kept an eye on me.

“All my family live at Coal Point.

“And, my sister is moving back there now, too.

“So, it’s still home for me, even though I’m currently living in Sweden.”

How has he adapted to a new lifestyle overseas?

“With COVID-19, I wasn’t able to train and sail, which was strange,” Langford said.

“However, I got to know the place and the culture better because I had more time on my hands.

“I usually fly in and fly out, with just a few days here and there.

“My partner and I also recently celebrated the birth of our baby boy.

“So, I’m happy to say I’ve experienced the Swedish life the past year.

“It’s funny though.

“In the peak of winter, there’s only six hours of day.

“Then, during summer, there’s just three hours of darkness.

“It takes some getting used to.”

Langford’s hometown fans will be able to watch him in action on Fox Sports, SailGP’s official broadcast partner in Australia, who’ll air each of the global races on the network, and via the award-winning SailGP app.

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