Nathan Outteridge has revealed lofty ambitions as he prepares to step back on the F50 at the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council this weekend – his first F50 action in almost 18 months.
The Australian driver, who steered Japan SailGP Team to two consecutive season-finals, last drove in SailGP in Autumn 2022, and is set to replace Danish driver Nicolai Sehested, who will stay home in Denmark to welcome his second child with former Olympic swimmer Rikke Møller Pedersen.
Speaking ahead of the race weekend, Outteridge – who has most recently been acting as a Sailing Advisor to Switzerland SailGP Team, and has joined Denmark on loan from the Swiss – explained: “It’s really good to be back on the wheel, it’s been a while. It’s a great opportunity and when Nicolai called and asked if I’d come and step in, I didn’t hesitate. It’s pretty hard to say no, if you get asked to come and drive one of these boats.”
He adds: “There’s no question that the Danish team has done a fantastic job, and Nicolai has done a great job of building and leading this team so far. It’s all about the process – and in an event like SailGP, that process can take time. But I see a team that is confident and ready to go and execute a result this weekend.”
The ROCKWOOL Denmark SailGP Team is sitting in second place in the overall SailGP Season 4 Championship at the half-way point, with Abu Dhabi the seventh of 13 Sail Grand Prix taking place this season.
And, despite subbing in for Sehested with just a practice session to sharpen up before the weekend’s racing, Outteridge did manage to secure a training day with the team in Dubai last November and has spent time over the past weeks meeting the team virtually and learning the playbook.
“From the training time we have had together, I have seen that the team is excellent at creating a stable platform, which as a driver dropping in at the last minute, is all you can ask for. We are targeting the top spots here in Abu Dhabi,” he continues. “We want to close the gap on the Australians in first place, whilst keeping our position in the podium places. A successful weekend would be to keep things ticking over on what is shaping up to be a really solid season for Denmark.”
Olympic Champion Outteridge, who also helms Emirates Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup, admits that his experience inside the Danish camp has opened his eyes up to the team’s strengths.
“I think that when you’re an outsider, you have opinions about all the other teams in SailGP,” he continues. “For sure, spending some time with the Danish crew, I have seen just how well the team runs – everyone is skilled, focused and knows their job. So I’m confident that we can achieve a positive result to keep the season moving in the right direction and set up a positive return for Nicolai in Sydney.”
The forecast in Abu Dhabi is light – and will provide testing conditions for the SailGP crews. It is likely that the teams will sail with reduced crew numbers onboard, meaning that the formation for racing is unpredictable.
“We are looking forward to getting a good practice in, where we will test all possibilities – but we are anticipating all outcomes, so we will be good to go whatever comes at us on Saturday,” Outteridge adds.
The Mubadala Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council starts at 1400 local time on Saturday 13 January. Fans can head to sailgp.com/watch to find out how to catch all the action in their market.