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More good oil

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 28 Jul 23:00 BST
Japan SailGP Team skippered by Nathan Outteridge in action during the third race. Race Day 1 Event 2 Season 1 SailGP event in San Francisco, California, © Beau Outteridge for SailGP

So we had The Good Oil just a couple of weeks back. This week we have more really good oil, and this time it comes from SailGP's Team Japan supremo, Nathan Outteridge. So then let's just read what the skiff and foiling legend has to say...

Can you please tell me what it felt like to win one after being in the previous two SailGP finals?

It was a great feeling to finally win an event. The team has slowly been improving, and it was great to see this progression be rewarded with a win. Clearly the Aussies are the team to beat, and so we know we need to keep this level of improvement going if we want to have a shot a winning the next two events.

What would it be like to go two all then at Cowes?

It would be nice to back up our win in NYC with another win in Cowes. However, the real goal for us is to keep on improving, as we really want to take the big win in Marseille. We learn more about these boats at each event, and the format. So we need to keep this going. We don't get the chance to do any training between events, so anything we want to practice has to be done at the events. Cowes will be our last chance to work on any sailing techniques of boat set-ups, so this will be a big focus for us.

I also am expecting that it might not only be the Australians that we need to watch in Cowes. GBR were really impressive in San Francisco, they were super quick upwind, and were sailing well. They made a few errors on the Saturday which ultimately cost them a spot in the final, and after their capsize in New York I expect them to be back on form and pushing hard to make the final in their home event.

How tough is it with restricted time on the water when you are a 'development team', as such?

This has been one of our biggest challenges this year. Russell has made the orders to restrict the Japanese and Australian teams training time at events. The reason behind this is to even up the racing, as it was pretty clear at the Sydney event that our two teams were quite a bit ahead of the others. So since the Sydney event we have been on a restricted training schedule. This hasn't changed much on the results side yet, as both teams have still been in the final at each of the subsequent events, but it is making the racing much closer as we saw with GBR taking a win in San Francisco, and USA take one in New York.

The real issue that is building up in the background is trying to train up our Japanese sailors. Japan has been deemed a developing sailing nation, and because of this we have been able to sail with three international sailors for Season One. This will change to two next year, and then down to just one from then on. Currently, no-one from Japan has ever been in the role of a wing trimmer or flight controller, and it has been our intention to give the guys some time in these positions in training at the event. However, because of our reduced training time, we haven't had the chance to put any of our Japanese sailors in these positions, as we need to use the limited time that we are allowed to prepare for the racing. In New York we got just three hours total in training time. What this means is that we will be entering next year with a less experienced team. So once Marseille is finished we will need to find a way to get some time on the water with our new crew before the next season starts.

Given you would want the Million Dollar kitty, what are doing to place yourselves in the best position?

As I mentioned before we are using each event as stepping-stones along the way to the final Million Dollar race. I believe we are on track right now, but we must keep improving if we want to take the win. We know that the Aussies will bounce back after their loss in New York, so we must step it up again if we want to remain on top of the leader board going in to the final. It's hard to pick up much in the data from NYC, as the conditions were so variable. Cowes will be an important event in terms of data collection, so that we can analyse our competitors' strengths and weaknesses.

How much have you enjoyed it all to date?

SailGP has been really enjoyable for me so far. Firstly, I really enjoyed being involved in the sea trials of the boats late last year. I had forgotten how incredible these boats are to sail, and to have a chance to help SailGP set up the boats was a lot of fun. The performance of these boats is off the charts in all aspects. The latest design foils, and the addition of more rudder differential means that the boats are now capable of four times the actual wind speed, which still blows my mind.

From an event side of things, it's really impressive how well the boats are travelling around the world. They are such complicated boats, and require so much love and care to keep them running. I can't speck highly enough of the SailGP tech team who do a fantastic job behind the scenes to keep the boats in working order. The racing has also been fantastic; each event has had its unique story, the racing is getting closer, and that's what I find so enjoyable. We saw in both San Francisco and New York that there was some close, tight racing with lots of lead changes, and so when you end up on top it makes it even sweeter.

I look forward to the next two events, and can't wait to be back in the boat with our crew in Cowes.

How tough is it to have it all so very much focussed on winner-takes-all?

Typically, sailing has always been a sport that rewards consistency, especially in fleet racing. However, with this type of winner-takes-all concept, it changes the focus and puts a lot of pressure to perform in just one race. I think everyone is still working out the best way to approach it, but all I know is that right now our job is to make sure we are in that final. Every single point we get takes us closer to being in that all-important race. The race itself... well, we will cross that bridge when we get to it!

Now if you're going to Hamilton Island Race Week, then you may get on the podium, but one sure way to ensure you score a prize is to see Whitsunday Holidays if you are still looking for onshore accommodation. One of the deluxe properties even has 'Rate negotiable!' next to it, so it seems 'no genuine offer refused' might be the go. Check it out for yourself RightHere. RightNow.

Speaking of the Northern Odyssey then, and it was certainly was really weird seeing the Sydney to Gold Coast fleet heading up, as I was actually coming down. They were out to sea, and I was on the coast. Yet it was impossible to miss the big sticks out front, and the more colourful kites in the middle and back. Only regret is that we were perhaps 90 minutes too late on our arrival, so as to be with them all at the Heads of Sydney Harbour. That would have been really cool, and definitely a great photo opportunity. Doh! We did try, however....

Right oh - here today there are some gems for you to review like kitefoiling, intel from North Sails, Sydney to Gold Coast race, the Great Barrier Reef, A-Class Worlds on the horizon, RS Feva Worlds, IMOCAs, Lasers, Fastnet, Transpac, the boats are all jamming in for the Sydney International Boat Show, 8m Worlds, Gitana tri, Class 40s, AC of course, and Moths. Below you'll see David Chapman is on the winner's dais once again, this time he sailed with Michael Grau from the NRV Yacht Club in Hamburg, where they just won the German J70 nationals. Michael is 73 years young and only three years back into sailing after a 47-year hiatus, and certainly there is much, much more to read.

Remember, if your class or association is generating material, make sure we help you spread your word, and you can do that by emailing us. Should you have been forwarded this email by a friend, and want to get your very own copy in your inbox moving forward, then simply follow the instructions on our newsletter page, where you can also register for different editions.

Finally, keep a weather eye on Sail-World. We are here to bring you the whole story from all over the world...

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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