Japan SailGP Team ready for season one title challenge
Tuesday, November 20, 2018 8:04 AM
SailGP today introduced the sixth and final team for season one of its new global racing league, the Japan SailGP Team – a world-class crew combining three of Japan’s most talented sailors with three international foiling catamaran veterans. The Japan SailGP Team’s blend of youth and experience will allow the crew to challenge in season one, and set the standard for the next generation of aspiring Japanese sailors.
Two-time Olympic medalist and America’s Cup veteran Nathan Outteridge – one of the world’s most talented and experienced high-performance foiling sailors – leads the Japan SailGP Team as CEO/helm. He is joined by the Japanese trio of Yugo Yoshida, Yuki Kasatani and Leo Takahashi, who will all serve in the grinder role in season one. Yoshida represented Japan in the 470 class at the Olympic Games London 2012 and several world championships. He made his high-performance foiling catamaran debut with SoftBank Team Japan at the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda, alongside SailGP teammate Kasatani – a former national-level rowing champion. Meanwhile, 19-year old Takahashi is the youngest athlete in SailGP. He has been a member of the Japan National Team since 2015 and was part of Japan’s 2017 Youth America’s Cup effort.
“This Japan SailGP Team is immensely talented and the crew will take to the water in Sydney next February ready to put all of their title-winning experience into a tilt at the season one championship,” said SailGP CEO Russell Coutts. “Japan has a rich maritime tradition with untapped potential in top-class sailing. Looking ahead, this world-class team competing in this exciting, nation-versus-nation league can be the catalyst for further developing a strong legacy of international sailing for Japan.”
Outteridge’s Olympic- and world-title winning Australia teammate Iain Jensen and another fellow Australian, Volvo Ocean Race winner Luke Parkinson, round out the six-man roster. The trio all sailed together with Artemis Racing for the 2017 America’s Cup.
“SailGP is truly the next generation of international sailing,” said Outteridge. “I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to race on some pretty incredible boats, but these F50s are superior in every way. Adding to the excitement is the fact that each of the boats will be equally advanced, making the competition extremely intense with the results coming down to the skills of the sailors. We have put together a strong team with a wealth of experience from around the world. It’s a mix of top-level international and Japanese sailors along with highly skilled technicians. Our goal now is to develop this group of talented individuals into a truly first-class sailing team.”
Established in 2018 by Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts, SailGP is an innovative fresh approach to a history-rich sport, aiming to increase mainstream popularity and excite sailing’s next generation. In its first season, the fan-centric league will bring intense inshore racing to Sydney; San Francisco; New York; Cowes, U.K.; and Marseille, France, as world-class crews compete for the championship trophy and a US$1 million prize. The teams will race identical wingsailed F50s – enhanced foiling catamarans capable of breaking the 50-knot barrier.
“SailGP is really going to excite the sailing community here in Japan, and help us reach a completely new set of fans and talented young athletes,” said Yoshida. “SailGP’s annual season model will get our teams out on the water more regularly, onto people’s screens and into the forefront of sports fans’ minds. It’s the perfect environment to build on Japan’s growing reputation in international sailing.”
Six rival national teams will compete in the first season: Australia, China, France, Great Britain, Japan and the United States. SailGP is ultimately aiming to have 10 teams in 10 race venues, including one in Japan by season three. Starting in season two, in each team market SailGP will establish youth sailing initiatives to provide young sailors opportunities to develop via school programs and yacht clubs, creating a path to professional racing.
SailGP and World Sailing rules designate Japan as a developing country, allowing the team to select a specified number of non-native athletes to participate with the national team so it can safely pilot the demanding F50 yachts from the very first race. The Japan SailGP Team has a 40 percent nationality requirement for season one, which will increase during the team’s initial years of racing. Eventually, every national team will be fully comprised of athletes native to their country, sharpening the nation-versus-nation edge that sets SailGP apart from many other top-class sailing competitions.