Trial with Oracle a big break for Lamb

UNDER SAIL: America’s Cup holders Oracle Team USA on Sydney Harbour yesterday. Picture: Janie BarrettBELMONT sailor Ben Lamb is putting everything on hold in an attempt to make his America’s Cup dream a reality with Oracle Team USA this week in Sydney.
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The 31-year-old is on board with the defending champions for a one-week trial as they start preparations for their Cup defence with a training camp in which they will sail alongside the Australian challenger team.

Lamb, a former laser and match-race national champion, gained the start through an invitation from Central Coast Olympic gold medallist Tom Slingsby, who is tactician and sailing team manager with Oracle, and Coal Point’s Kyle Langford.

Slingsby, a long-time rival of Lamb’s across a variety of sailing disciplines, and Langford were part of Oracle’s successful defence last year.

Lamb has sailed with Oracle for the past two days and is determined to make the most of the opportunity.

‘‘The priority is Oracle, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get on with those guys,’’ he said.

‘‘After this week, if they want me to quit work and just go sailing, I’ll do that.

‘‘They’re the No.1 team in the world, so if you want to get on with anyone, it’s these blokes.’’

Lamb is a fly-in, fly-out electrician in Queensland mines but has devoted all his energy to sailing since Langford and Slingsby flagged the trial opportunity in December. He is now adjusting to sailing on the Cup’s high-tech AC45 catamarans, which reach speeds of 40 knots.

‘‘It’s a dream of mine to sail in the America’s Cup, so as soon as they said there was potential for me to trial, I put everything else on hold,’’ he said. ‘‘I was looking to build a house, but I’ve just taken as much time off work as possible since then and I’ve just been going flat out at the gym to get as fit as possible.

‘‘I’ve just been doing as much sailing as possible on any boat I can, just to get ready and get out of my comfort zone, because I’ve never sailed a boat like these AC45s before.’’

Lamb said it was a steep learning curve aboard Oracle, but he was happy with how he was performing.

‘‘All the guys on board are awesome,’’ he said. ‘‘They’re really down to earth and really helpful with everything.

‘‘I’ve been filling in to the tactician role and I also had a steer for about an hour today as well, and that was great.’’

Langford was a wing trimmer and the youngest on board during Oracle’s dramatic 9-8 comeback win over Team New Zealand last year in San Francisco.

He has trained with Lamb over the summer in preparation for the training camp.

‘‘He knows everything about these boats and I’ve used him as a sounding board,’’ Lamb said. ‘‘I’ve sailed against Tom [Slingsby] for most of my life and he’s great for info, as well.’’

Another Lake Macquarie sailor, Wade Morgan, has been showing his wares on the water over the past two days in Sydney.

Morgan is trialling for a place on the Hamilton Island Yacht Club’s Australian challenger team.

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