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Slingsby shoots for green and golden era with SailGP

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Slingsby shoots for green and golden era with SailGP

LONDON (Reuters) – Screaming across Sydney Harbor at the helm of a 50-foot foiling catamaran with Australia’s green and gold emblazoned on its sail and its flag flying is a dream come true for Tom Slingsby.

FILE PHOTO: Australia’s Tom Slingsby celebrates after crossing the finish line to win gold medal of the men’s Laser sailing class during the medal race at the London 2012 Olympic Games in Weymouth and Portland, southern England, August 6, 2012. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener

The 34-year-old is not only getting to lead his own team as skipper of the Australian SailGP team this week, he also sees the chance to showcase the country’s sailing prowess and potentially kick-start a tilt at the America’s Cup.

“This is the first time we have been able to pull an Australian team together on a world stage,” Slingsby told Reuters by telephone as he prepared for the debut six-nation SailGP event in Sydney which begins on Friday.

Slingsby won Olympic gold in the Laser dinghy class in 2012 and was tactician on Larry Ellison’s Oracle Team USA when he and countryman Jimmy Spithill, who skippered the team, lifted the America’s Cup in San Francisco in 2013.

But he rues the fact that Australia has not been able to put together its own challenge for the “Auld Mug”, the oldest trophy in international sport, in recent years, with the country’s top sailors such as Nathan Outteridge, Kyle Langford and Sam Newton among those who have sailed on teams representing other nations.

“Sailing in Australia is booming. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have an America’s Cup team, I think we could be extremely successful,” said Slingsby, who tried but failed to get backing for an Australian entry for the next edition in 2021.

“The Australian public will look at this and see it’s an amazing sport and ask why haven’t we competed (in the America’s Cup) if we are a success in SailGP,” he added.

“I would like to do both. That would be the dream.”

SailGP, which is recycling some of the catamarans from the last America’s Cup event in Bermuda in 2017, is bankrolled by Oracle boss Ellison and run by New Zealander Russell Coutts, who is promising adrenaline-filled, single-design racing.

“Its going to be right up there in terms of proud moments, something I dreamed of all my life … Sailing a green and gold boat in Sydney Harbor, its kind of a dream come true.”

Slingsby has signed up to three years skippering the Australian SailGP entry, pitting himself against teams representing Britain, China, France, Japan and the United States in the winner-takes-all $1 million prize grand prix competition.

However, the way SailGP has been structured does not preclude him from pulling together an America’s Cup syndicate and he thinks the new event’s profile will help.

“We are hopefully going to bring a lot of new fans into sailing,” Slingsby said.

Reporting by Alexander Smith,; Editing by Alison Williams

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Reports: Bears to cut K Parkey in March

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Reports: Bears to cut K Parkey in March

After a difficult season culminated by a crucial missed field goal on a potential game-winning field goal in the NFC playoffs, kicker Cody Parkey will be released by the Chicago Bears when the new league year begins in March.

FILE PHOTO: Sep 17, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey (1) watches his field goal during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

According to multiple reports on Friday, the team intends to cut ties with Parkey once the NFL free agency period begins on March 13.

Parkey, who turned 27 on Tuesday, endured an inconsistent season in Chicago after inking a four-year, $15 million contract last winter following the team’s release of Robbie Gould, the Bears’ all-time leading scorer who moved on to the San Francisco 49ers.

Parkey, a five-year veteran, not only missed a career-high seven field-goal attempts and three extra points during the regular season, but his 43-yard attempt in the final seconds of the NFC wild-card round against the Philadelphia Eagles first hit the upright then the crossbar before bouncing back on the field.

Despite the NFL later ruling that the kick was partially blocked, Parkey took much of the public blame for the Bears’ season ending.

Parkey began his career with the Eagles in 2014 when he made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, scoring a franchise-record 150 points while making 32 of 36 field-goal tries. In two seasons with the Eagles, Parkey never missed an extra point.

Parkey later kicked for the Cleveland Browns in 2016 and Miami Dolphins in 2017.

In January, the Bears signed Tulsa product Redford Jones after conducting a workout that reportedly included multiple hopefuls. Jones made 50 of his 67 field-goal attempts at Tulsa from 2015-17, and he does have a kick on his resume where he hit both uprights. Unlike Parkey’s double-doink, though, that 2016 attempt against Cincinnati ended up going over the crossbar for three points.

“We need more production out of that position,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said last month after signing Jones. “We know we need to get better there, and it will be an area of focus.”

—Field Level Media

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WTA roundup: Bencic upsets Svitolina to reach Dubai final

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WTA roundup: Bencic upsets Svitolina to reach Dubai final

Belinda Bencic secured a spot in the final by stunning two-time champion Elina Svitolina 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (3) on Friday at the Dubai Duty Free Championships in the United Arab Emirates.

Tennis – WTA Premier 5 – Dubai Tennis Championships – Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates – February 22, 2019 Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic in action during the Semi Final against Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina REUTERS/Satish Kumar

Bencic trailed 5-3 in the final set before recovering to defeat the sixth-seeded Svitolina. She will face second-seeded Petra Kvitova in the championship match after the Czech Republic star defeated Taiwan’s Su-Wei Hsieh 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

“I think I’m always the most proud of how I fight,” Bencic said after posting the victory. “Even when I lose, I learned myself to just look in the mirror and be proud of myself when I’m fighting, when I’m giving my all, when I’m trying to do what I have to do.”

Bencic won eight consecutive points after Svitolina was in position to close out the match. Then the Switzerland native carried the momentum into the tiebreaker to notch one of the biggest victories of her career by outdueling the Ukrainian.

“Basically, I stayed in the zone, even in (the) tiebreak,” Bencic said. “I was barely breathing, just playing automatic. You are not thinking any more. It’s where the instincts just guide you through it.”

Bencic will be seeking her third career title when she squares off with Kvitova, who will be shooting for her 27th.

Kvitova dropped the first set on Friday before recovering to win the last two.

“It was a tough one today, for sure,” Kvitova said. “She really didn’t give me anything for free. It was a tough first set. I’m glad that I was able to came back in the second. I didn’t play great at the end of the first.

“I think I’m pleased with my kind of mental focus after losing the first set, that I was calmer when I came back and played from the beginning of the second set. I still kind of felt that I can do that somehow. I don’t know. It was something weird.”

Kvitova overcame eight double faults to claim the victory.

Hungarian Ladies Open

Top-seeded Alison Van Uytvanck defeated Ukraine’s Kateryna Kozlova 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 to advance to the semifinals in Budapest.

Van Uytvanck, of Belgium, will face fifth-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova in the semis. The Russian dispatched third-seeded Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier 6-3, 6-2.

Eighth-seeded Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic will face Russian Anastasia Potapova in the other semi. Vondrousova outlasted Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 while the 17-year-old Potapova fought past Romania’s Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-5 in 2 hours, 50 minutes.

—Field Level Media

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Patriots owner Robert Kraft facing charges of solicitation of prostitution

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Patriots owner Robert Kraft facing charges of solicitation of prostitution

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is facing charges of misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution after he was twice videotaped paying for a sex act at an illicit massage parlor, police in Florida said Friday.

The 77-year-old Kraft was one of 25 people involved in the alleged solicitation at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter.

Michael Edmondson, spokesman for the state attorney’s office in Palm Beach County, told ESPN that the nature of any charges that the 25 people face will not be released until next week.

Kraft has denied wrongdoing.

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