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Sydney to stage first round of 2020 SailGP

Sydney has been confirmed as the venue for the opening round of the SailGP series for a second straight year in February, as interest in the concept grows.

The full schedule for the multi-round event has still to be confirmed, but looks likely to include at least one more boat and additional events.

“As far as I know we’ll definitely have a seventh team and from what I’ve been told we’ll have between five and eight events next year,” Team Australia skipper Tom Slingsby told AAP.

The 2019 series has featured 50-foot catamarans representing Australia, China, France, Japan, Great Britain and the United States and this season the schedule featured stops in Sydney, San Francisco, New York and Cowes, with the final round to be conducted in Marseille in just over a week.

The top two boats in France will go head to head for the SailGP Championship trophy and a winner-takes-all $US1 million ($A1.5 million) prize with Australia and Japan the likely combatants.

The Australian team, in Sydney this week for a training camp, leads the Nathan Outteridge-helmed Japanese boat by four points.

“For sure our team is going to feel a bit of pressure on the start line,” Slingsby said.

“We’ve just got to do the best we can. I have full faith in the guys around me are going to do that and hopefully they trust I will as well.”

Meanwhile, SailGP chief executive Sir Russell Coutts said Sydney was a logical choice to again host the opening leg on February 28-29.

“On every level … the iconic harbour backdrop, the competition, the fans … we can’t wait to return,” he said.

‘The boats are getting faster and the teams more competitive and we expect Sydney will once again be a great natural amphitheatre to showcase these incredible athletes and boats.”

“The teams will be spending the winter testing new wing sails and other exciting upgrades.”

Slingsby was also delighted to start the campaign in familiar surroundings.

“Sailing in front of a home crowd was simply amazing, and something that I had never experienced before at this level,” he said.

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