Please select your home edition
Selden 2020 - LEADERBOARD

SailGP: Spithill and Robertson surprised over Outteridge taking over Swiss helm

by SailGP edited by Sail-World NZ 18 Aug 10:52 BST 18 August 2022
Nathan Outteridge, co-driver and sailing advisor of Switzerland SailGP Team, looks on during a practice session ahead of the Rockwool Denmark Sail Grand Prix in Copenhagen, Denmark. 17th August 2022 © Ricardo Pinto/SailGP

Two top skippers have queried the wisdom of moving coach Nathan Outteridge into the helmsman's role aboard Switzerland SailGP for the upcoming event in Copenhagen. Jimmy Spithill and Phil Robertson were critical of the move at today's Media Conference.

U.S. and Canada drivers Jimmy Spithill and Phil Robertson have questioned the Swiss team’s decision to recruit SailGP veteran Nathan Outteridge, claiming new teams learn best through experience.

Outteridge, who was previously driver for the folded Japanese team, will step into the Swiss F50 as driver for upcoming events in an effort to train up Sébastien Schneiter who, at 26, is the youngest driver in the league.

The comments came in the second and smaller of two media conferences ahead of the Rockwool Denmark Sail Grand Prix Friday. Outteridge was on stage at the first media conference in Copenhagen.

Both Spithill and Robertson welcomed Outteridge back into the league, with Spithill describing him as ‘one of the best sailors in the world’.

Answering a question as to whether he had considered inviting Outteridge to join the out of form USA SailGP team, twice America's Cup champion, Spithill gave a curt response "I didn't know he was American!"

"From the Swiss point of view. I'm surprised."

"I've got to say my take would have been you learn more by getting on the field and standing on the sideline. So I was a little surprised at the decision."

Former World Match Racing champion Phil Robertson, himself a ring-in skipper for the Canadian team, echoed Spithill’s view, describing the decision as a ‘good move but a bad move as well’.

"I haven't looked too much into it to be honest," Robertson remarked. "And we're not too bothered. But for sure when you're racing one of these boats experience is everything, and you can sort of cut some corners pretty heavily - and we sort of did it with the Spanish team."

"You cut all the learning corners by bringing in experience and the good thing about that is you probably jumped to the top of the fleet or somewhere near it and are competitive. But the bad thing is is you don't learn the hard lessons the hard way and that's where you're probably struggle. So I probably echo a little bit of what Jimmy says - and it's a good move, but it can also be a bad move as well."

However, other drivers in the fleet complimented the appointment, with Great Britain driver Ben Ainslie, turning towards Outteridge seated at the opposite end of the top table at the first media conference, describing it as a ‘smart move’ by the Switzerland SailGP Team.

“Bringing Nathan in to understand where there are some jumps they can take in techniques and tactics and starting and so on, no doubt he’s going to have some impact in that,” he said.

The first media conference, held between five of the nine skippers, began with a post-mortem being conducted between the two protagonists, Tom Slingsby (AUS) and Ben Ainslie (GBR) over the third finalist determining racing incident at the end of Race 5 of the previous event in Plymouth. Both both skippers stuck to their respective positions.

Outteridge shed more light on his remit with the team, revealing that ‘improving performance’ is high on his list of priorities. He pointed to the team’s ‘9th, 9th and 8th’ finishes so far this season, adding ‘that’s not really what the team wants in terms of performance’.

Key areas for improvement are ‘starting techniques and maneuver consistency’. “The team was losing a lot of spots in Plymouth but not maneuvering as well as they can,” he said. Other priorities will be ‘grow the understanding of the F50’ and ‘build the crew up for Season 4’.

However, he said that the team was realistic about how long the process would take. “The team is under no illusion that we can turn it around in a matter of days,” he said, ‘it’s going to take all season.’

Outteridge gave no explanation as to how long he would be helming the Swiss entry, or how his SailGP commitments would be worked in with Emirates Team New Zealand's America's Cup development schedule, where he along with four other SailGP sailors are members of the Emirates Team NZ America's Cup sailing team.

The Rockwool Denmark Sail Grand Prix Copenhagen gets underway tomorrow.

Related Articles

SailGP edges closer to Middle East debut
First-ever Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas this November As the sun sets on its event in Cádiz Spain, SailGP, the purpose-driven global racing championship, packs up and heads to the region for the first-ever Dubai Sail Grand Prix Presented by P&O Marinas, which will take place at Mina Rashid, November 12-13. Posted on 28 Sep
SailGP Purpose and Impact Report
56 per cent reduction in temporary power related emissions, and more... SailGP, the world's first climate positive sport and entertainment property, has released its inaugural Purpose & Impact Report to showcase the environmental and social successes and challenges it has faced in its second season. Posted on 28 Sep
Spain Sail Grand Prix highlights video
Tricky conditions, massive fan turnout, the ultimate photo finish, a first-time winner The Spain Sail Grand Prix presented by NEAR in Cádiz had it all: tricky conditions, massive fan turnout, the ultimate photo finish and a first-time winner. Posted on 28 Sep
Spain Sail Grand Prix overall
France edge out United States in extraordinary finish in Cádiz In the closest-ever finish to a SailGP event, Quentin Delapierre led the France SailGP Team to a stunning victory by just three seconds over Jimmy Spithill's U.S. team to claim the teams first event win in SailGP. Posted on 25 Sep
SailGP: Kiwis in close points - Day 1 Cadiz
Kiwis are just three points behind front-runners Australia and France with 24 points each sitting fourth in the fleet after day one with 21 points total. Tied with the Americans, the Kiwis are just three points behind front-runners Australia and France with 24 points each. Great Britain is in second with 22 points. Full replay here Posted on 24 Sep
Spain Sail Grand Prix day 1
Huge crowds enthralled by close quarters racing Packed shorelines in Cádiz enjoy a gutsy performance from the home team in challenging conditions as Australia and France finish on top Posted on 24 Sep
Championship lead on the line as SailGP hits Cádiz
A good result has never been more important for the nine national teams As SailGP enters the second half of its third season, a good result has never been more important for the nine national teams at the Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía - Cádiz presented by NEAR to keep alive their hopes of making the Grand Final. Posted on 23 Sep
SailGP progress on Women's Pathway anniversary
Celebrating its own milestone in the quest for gender equity In a landmark year for women's sport across the world, SailGP will celebrate its own milestone in the quest for gender equity this week at the Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía - Cádiz presented by NEAR. Posted on 23 Sep
SailGP bigger, bolder and better than ever
First venues announced in season that will span the globe in 2023-2024 SailGP Season 4 will finish back in the northern hemisphere, stopping for the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix on May 4-5 before a further two North America events, including a potential first home event for the Canada SailGP Team. Posted on 16 Sep
Relive the best bits from Saint-Tropez
Extended highlights video from the Range Rover France Sail Grand Prix The fifth event of Season 3 ended with the U.S. battling back from a shaky start to the season and claiming its first ever event win on the iconic waters of Saint-Tropez. Posted on 16 Sep