ROCKWOOL Denmark SailGP Team will have a new face on the wheel in Abu Dhabi – as Nathan Outteridge replaces Danish driver Nicolai Sehested.
Sehested, who has steered the Danish team to second place in its best-ever SailGP season, will step off the boat for the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council to be at home in Denmark for the birth of his second child with former Olympic swimmer Rikke Møller Pedersen.
And Outteridge – Australian Olympic champion and two-time SailGP finalist with Japan, who joins “on loan” from Switzerland SailGP Team – will drive the ROCKWOOL boat in his absence.
“I’m delighted that Nathan has agreed to help us out in Abu Dhabi,” says Sehested. “In my opinion, he is one of the world’s top sailors, and he knows these boats and SailGP inside out.”
Sehested continues: “Even though it’s always a tough decision to miss racing, especially as we are entering the business end of the season and sitting in the top spots in the SailGP Championship, I can’t think of a better set of hands to leave the helm of our boat in than Nathan’s.”
“Having raced against him over the years, I know just how good he is – especially in tricky, light conditions – and I know he will be a great fit for our team.”
Back on the wheel
The Mubadala Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix will be the first event that Sehested has missed since ROCKWOOL Denmark SailGP Team joined the competition in 2019, and sees Outteridge return to the helm of an F50 for the first time in almost 18 months.
“When Nicolai asked if I could step in and drive the Danish boat in Abu Dhabi, it was a no brainer – it’s a great opportunity for me to come and drive a boat again in SailGP,” says Outteridge. “Nicolai is doing an awesome job leading this Danish team – and I’ve been very impressed by them so far this season. They’re a really tight-knit group, with plenty of banter and a fun but focused environment – definitely one of the teams to watch in the Season 4 championship.”
Having led Japan SailGP Team to two consecutive season finals, Outteridge has been supporting Switzerland SailGP Team as Sailing Advisor since Season 3, and also drove the Swiss F50 in the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix and France Sail Grand Prix in the autumn of 2022.
Last month, ahead of Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix, the Australian, who is also helmsman for Emirates Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup, was able to jump onboard the Danish boat to get some valuable hours with the ROCKWOOL team.
“It was really valuable time onboard,” he explains. “The team’s boat handling is really impressive, so hopefully a steady platform can make my job easy. I’ve learned the playbook, had a few chats and briefings with Nicolai, so hopefully I can step in and do him and the team proud.”
ROCKWOOL Denmark SailGP Team sits second in the championship at the turn of 2024, and Sehested explains that it is testament to the team’s performance and culture that he didn’t hesitate in making this call. “I’m really proud of our team’s performances so far this season, and it says a lot about what we are building here that we are able to make this substitution – I have no doubt that it will be a smooth one,” explains Sehested. “It’s tricky timing, but we have a depth of talent across all areas of the team. We are focused on making the least changes possible to keep things running smoothly and efficiently.”
Sehested will return to the team and resume driving duties from the Australia Sail Grand Prix on 24-25 February. And Outteridge – fresh off the back of leading Emirates Team New Zealand to America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta glory in the Middle East last month – is raring to go and show what he can do under the Danish flag in the first SailGP action of 2024 this weekend.
“At the end of the day, I’m just one wheel in the cog, and I’m relying heavily on the rest of the team to keep us stable and powered up,” he admits. “The main goal is to have a good event and post some more points on the board.” “I’d love to be able to keep the team in the top spots and close the gap on the Aussies. We’ll be targeting a podium in Abu Dhabi,” he says.