Cash strapped Japan SailGP Team excluded from Season 3
Despite consistent success on the water the Japanese outfit is out of the global high-performance league – presumably after failing to achieve commercial viability
Behind all the glamour and pizazz of SailGP there are cold hard commercial realities that must be faced up to by all the teams involved in the high-performance international circuit.
Performing well on the water is just one element in becoming a successful SailGP syndicate and regatta wins need to be backed up by success in securing commercial partners to secure the financial stability of the team.
Case in point is Nathan Outteridge’s highly talented Japan SailGP Team.
With the Australian double Olympic medallist Outteridge on the helm and legendary British wing trimmer Chris Draper backing him up the Japanese outfit finished second in the first two seasons of SailGP.
One of the few teams to be able to consistently challenge Tom Slingsby’s all conquering Australian crew the Japan outfit looked set for another successful year as SailGP began its third season.
Despite all that success, however, the news has come through this week that the team is out of the competition, presumably after having failed to secure the necessary financial backing to make the team commercially viable.
This announcement will probably not come as a major surprise to most SailGP fans. The writing has been on the wall for a few months now since the SailGP organisers reallocated the Japanese boat to newcomers Canada SailGP Team after supply chain issues delayed the completion of the fleet’s tenth F50 catamaran.
Forced to sit out the first event in Bermuda, Outteridge used the press conference there to make an impassioned plea for support.
Since then, the talented Australian sailor – who previously was helmsman for two Swedish Artemis America’s Cup campaigns and earlier this year was recruited by AC holders Emirates Team New Zealand – is believed to have been pulling out all the stops to get his SailGP team funded.
But it has all been to no avail, it appears, as this week's stark official statement on the SailGP website seems to confirm the demise of the Japan SailGP Team:
“After much deliberation and taking into account logistical and commercial considerations, SailGP has made the difficult decision to pause the participation of Japan SailGP Team indefinitely.
The league would like to thank Nathan Outteridge and all of the athletes and staff involved in the Team for their outstanding performance in the first two seasons of SailGP and wish them all the very best for the future.
Season 3 will continue with nine teams racing for the remainder of the season.”
With Team Japan’s wing trimmer Chris Draper and coach Jo Glanfield already well ensconced with Phil Robertson’s Canada SailGP Team – cheekily nicknamed ‘Japanada’ by Outteridge – it seems there is little chance of a way back for the Japanese syndicate.
Whether this announcement means the end of Outteridge’s involvement with SailGP remains to be seen. For sure, losing a talent like his the circuit will be a blow to SailGP. On a personal level a fierce competitor like Outteridge will doubtless be gutted to be sidelined from a competition that he helped create and clearly enjoyed competing in.
That said, Emirates Team New Zealand are about to take delivery of the first AC40 one-design foiling monohull and perhaps the task of commissioning and running sea trials could well be the perfect project to soften the blow and keep him gamefully occupied over the coming months.
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