What travel has taught me: Olympic sailor Tom Slingsby

Olympic Gold Medallist and Sydney To Hobart winner, America's Cup winner and eight-time world champion Tom Slingsby is Skipper and CEO of the Australian team competing in the new global series, SailGP which pits the fastest sailing boats in the world against each other.


The 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney taught me to dream big. I was 15 and travelling down to Sydney from the Central Coast to watch each of the Olympic sailing races in Sydney Harbour. I was sitting on a rock on Bradleys Head watching the laser class final and my Aussie sailing idol, Michael Blackburn compete, when I had this moment, where I said to myself, "I know what I'm going to do with my life". When I got home I scribbled a list of goals that I put up on my bedroom wall and at the top of that list was winning gold at the Olympics.


London will always be a place that, for me, represents what perseverance can deliver. I had gone into the 2008 Olympics in Beijing as a favourite to win the laser class and I choked, finishing 22nd. After taking some time off I decided to focus all of my efforts towards redemption at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Michael Blackburn had gone from being my hero to my rival in the 2004, and 2008 Olympic trials and then became my coach. With Michael's support, I went on to win gold in London. I can still remember crossing the finish line and heading straight up to Michael, where we hugged. I felt that we had won that gold medal together, as he had never won gold in any previous Olympics.


With my sailing career I've had the chance to travel the world, experience amazing cultures and live in exotic locations, but from my travels I've learnt that none of that compares to going home to the Central Coast, where my family is. It's about getting back to your roots, sitting on the lounge and laughing at my parents' house and watching my nieces and nephews cause havoc. It's because of this that I base myself in Australia so that I can drive and hour and a half to up to the Central Coast to visit Mum, and Dad, and not miss Christmas lunches with my sisters.


I was recently competing with my Australian team on the Hudson River for the New York SailGP event, one of five taking place across the globe for this new international series. We had beaten the six other nations competing in the two previous events in San Francisco and Sydney. Going into the final race against close rival Japan, we were extremely confident that we were going to win. It was humbling to lose. But I think I, and the team needed that dose of reality and it's forced us to not get complacent. As long as you take away the learnings from the losses, then you are going to come back stronger, and that's what we plan to do going into the next event, in Cowes.

On August 10 and 11, Slingsby will compete in the Sail GP event at Cowes on the Isle of Wight, which will be televised on Fox Sport. See sailgp.com