Denmark’s Sehested: “We’re ready for the challenge”

Jonathan Turner
27 February 2020

The Denmark SailGP Team presented by ROCKWOOL begins its debut SailGP season on Friday, as the dramatic, adrenaline-filled racing series takes to the iconic Sydney Harbour for the first action of Season 2.

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The action – which takes place on 28-29 February – will see the Danish team, led by Nicolai Sehested, join six other nations to battle for one of the sport’s most hotly-contested competitions.

And despite going into Sydney with less than 20 hours of training on board the supercharged F50 boat, Sehested believes that his crew has what it takes to hold its own in the first races of the season.

“Of course, preparing to race in this series in just eight weeks has been a huge challenge – but we’re ready for it,” said Sehested.

“Some of these teams have years of experience on the boats, and we’re the new kids on the block. When you’re doing 45 knots in the F50, every mistake you make is amplified – but to beat the other teams, we know we have to race right on the limit, at 100 percent.”

At just 30 years old, Sehested is the youngest helmsman amongst some of the world’s best on-water athletes – including the most successful Olympic sailor of all-time, Ben Ainslie (GBR) and last year’s winning helm, Tom Slingsby (AUS).

And the Dane, who has already raced around the planet in two editions of The Ocean Race, admitted that he is enjoying his team’s underdog status ahead of the first races.

“To be honest, it’s a nice place to be,” explained Sehested. “We’re the new guys and the top teams probably aren’t looking back over their shoulders at us right now, so I think we can come in and surprise a few people in Sydney.

“We’re going to push right from the first race and of course we want to do well quickly. But we know we have to make the right decisions from day one – you can’t rush these things, or you will end up paying in the long run. We’re building a strong fundament for the future.”

The Denmark SailGP Team, presented by ROCKWOOL, is the first ever Danish entry into the series – and Sehested discussed how the teams feels the support from back home, as it unveiled an eye-catching sail design featuring Danish national symbol, Holger Danske.

“This is huge for us, but also the whole of Denmark,” he said. “We’re proud to be flying the flag for our country, and we have a fantastic sponsor in ROCKWOOL bringing some Danish DNA into the heart of our campaign. We’re very happy to be here in Sydney.”

The 2019 SailGP Championship – and the $1 million prize pot – was won by Australia SailGP Team, and the reigning champions are hotly-tipped to take the first blood of Season 2 on home waters.

However, Australian helmsman Tom Slingsby was quick to play down his crew’s dominant pre-season status at the Press Conference in Sydney.

“I don’t think we’re as much of a favourite as people think – the level is a lot higher this year,” he said. “Everyone out there is talking down their chances and saying we’re the hot favourites, but if you watch the racing, you’ll see that it’s anyone’s game.”