Fresh off a victory in New York, the Japan SailGP Team is already working hard to maintain their spot at the top in Cowes. Comprised of a mix of Olympic sailors and pros, with Nathan Outteridge at the helm, this group has had a busy summer spread out across the globe. They’ve been reflecting on what worked in New York City, and how to keep that momentum going.
“New York required good boat handling because it was so puffy and shifty. We realized it was a difficult place to race and it wouldn’t always go our way, and we embraced that challenge,” said Outteridge of the effort. “I’ve sailed at Cowes a couple of times before; the biggest thing will be assessing the weather and trying to understand what the current is doing. I don’t expect it to be as challenging as New York as far as how variable the weather is, but you never know what you will get there. I’ve also heard it’s been hot, which you don’t expect in the UK.”
For Outteridge, who is a seasoned racer with a resume that stands out among the top sailors on the planet, part of the joy of winning on SailGP is watching his younger teammates celebrate. The youngest athlete on board the Japanese boat (and in the entire championship) is Leo Takahashi, who is just 20 years old. Success with his SailGP team could be career-making for Takahashi and Outteridge is mentoring him in a way.
“Seeing the young guys get excited about it shows to me that they all care and that’s what you want to see when you are leading a team,” said Outteridge. “You want everyone to really care about what we are doing.”
The day after racing concluded in New York, the Japan SailGP Team gathered for a de-brief, where the sailors expressed an eagerness to keep the focus and get better. Even though they had proven they could win it, they know it’s not over until Marseille.
Outteridge spoke to their attitudes. “They know the win was deserved, and are aware that we want to do it again, but the only way to do it again is to keep focusing. Not just looking back and saying ‘we’re the best’.
When it comes down to the wire or just a point separation on the leaderboard, the match races are where the wins count. “If we keep improving and sailing at our level, we should be able to make the match race. At the end of the day, when we get to Marseille, that’s what is going to count,” said Outteridge.
While the Japanese team is confident looking ahead to the UK, they aren’t relaxing yet. This past July Outteridge has been in Japan training for an Olympic test event alongside Jason Waterhouse of the Australia SailGP Team, and between the two, the heat is already on.
“I’ve been slogging it out against Jason this past week in the Nacra17 in Japan, and we will go at it again in Cowes. In the mind- the games have begun.”