Schneiter steps back as Swiss driver for remainder of Season 4; Outteridge takes the wheel - Thumbnail (1x1)

Ahead of the upcoming ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix this week in Christchurch, Switzerland SailGP Team has announced a major crew change onboard F50 Eiger; Sebastien Schneiter will step back as driver, to focus on his Paris 2024 Olympic campaign, handing over the Swiss wheel to experienced SailGP athlete and two-time Olympic medallist, Nathan Outteridge.

Outteridge first had success in SailGP during Season 1 and 2 leading the Japan SailGP Team. He has been supporting the Swiss over the past 18-months in a number of roles, from sailing advisor and coach, to co-driver and strategist. His experience in the league and sailing credentials makes him a natural replacement for Schneiter. For the past two SailGP events, Outteridge has already been back at the wheel as the stand-in driver for Denmark and New Zealand.

Switzerland SailGP Team | Nathan Outteridge | Sebastien Schneiter

This summer, Schneiter will compete in the Paris 2024 Olympic games, his third campaign in the 49er class. After a podium in the Olympic Test Event and a vice-World Champion title in 2023, Schneiter is tipped as being one the top contenders for an Olympic medal this summer. The 49er is a rite of passage for some of the top SailGP athletes, it’s a reactive, very physical boat that has been sailed by some of the best athletes in the fleet including Outteridge (a gold & silver medalist in the class).

Switzerland has not won a sailing medal at the Summer Olympics since 1968 - a silver medal. Schneiter will be back on the racecourse next month with events in Palma, Hyeres followed by the 2024 49er European Championships (May). He will continue supporting Swiss SailGP Team remotely and be back driving at the start of Season 5, at the end of the year.

The Swiss first started competing in SailGP’s global league in Season 3, in May 2022. The team is now eight events into Season 4 and after Christchurch (23/24 March), the 10-strong fleet will head to Bermuda, Halifax, New York, followed by San Francisco for the season finale.

Schneiter said: “Sydney last month was the last event of Season 4 for me. It was a tough decision to make but I believe that it’s the best decision for the team and for my goal of winning an Olympic medal for Switzerland. For the past 10 years I've been working towards this moment and this summer, with the Olympics in Marseille, I feel that I have a realistic chance to achieve this. The team will be in really good hands with Nathan behind the wheel and helping to develop the team! I'll still be following closely and be ready to jump back in at the start of Season 5 later this year.”

Switzerland SailGP Team | Nathan Outteridge | Sebastien Schneiter

Outteridge said: “When Seba called me and asked me to take over as the Switzerland driver, I had to say yes. It’s an honour to be asked and it's been a real pleasure working with the team for the past 18 months. I've learned a lot from my different roles and now understand so much more about the F50, other than only being behind the wheel and driving it.

“I've been without a drive in SailGP for the last couple of seasons, since driving for the Japan SailGP Team. I have pretty high expectations of myself and what I'd like to get out in terms of results for the remainder of Season 4, and those expectations will hopefully flow across the whole team.”

CEO, Tanguy Cariou continued: “From Christchurch onwards we will enter into a new phase with Nathan driving. It's a great opportunity for our team, there’s no one better who can help enhance the team’s performance and help us develop our long-term goal.

“He’s one of the most talented sailors in the world and we are all looking forward to having him onboard, leading on the water and helping us to move forward.

“We wish Seba the best for the next five months, in the build-up to Paris 2024 this summer. He has a chance to make history and has our full support to go out there and try and bring home a medal for Switzerland!”

The ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix takes place in Whakaraupō, Lyttelton Harbour on 23-24 March 2024.