Japan Driver Nathan Outteridge has issued an urgent plea for financial backing and said the team may not be able to enter Season 3 if it does not receive support.
It comes after the news that Japan would sit out the first three events of the season to allow fully-funded newcomer teams Canada and Switzerland to enter the league. There are currently nine boats available while the tenth remains under construction.
Japan’s boat has therefore been loaned to Canada for the first three events of the season - a decision based on logistical and commercial considerations. Japan was instead scheduled to re-enter the league at the fourth event in Copenhagen with a bespoke scoring system in place. However, Outteridge’s comments have now cast doubt over the team racing at all in Season 3.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess, Outteridge said it was ‘tough’ for the Season 2 runner up to sit out the season opener. However, he added that he ‘completely understands the situation’.
“It’s not just about racing on the water - it’s about making the teams commercially successful,” he said. “We haven’t got the financial backing we need to be on the start line this weekend.”
He added that he wished Canada ‘all the best’ heading into Season 3 but said the completion schedule for the tenth boat remains ‘a moving target’.
The team’s main focus is now ‘finance’, he said. Without commercial backing, Outteridge warned ‘there’s a real possibility that we might not make it to Denmark’.
“If we can’t get financial investment, there are other teams that want to enter this league - I am aware that the team could be sold to another country.”
He ended with a call to action to save the Japanese team. “If anyone can help us get some finance together, I’d love to have a conversation with you.”
The Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess gets underway on May 14-15.