Outteridge hopes to ride form wave
Nathan Outteridge believes his team’s new-found confidence and keeping things simple are the keys to beating Emirates Team New Zealand in the finals of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Play-offs.
Artemis rattled off four wins on the trot to beat SoftBank Team Japan in the semi-finals, wrapping up a 5-3 victory yesterday on the Great Sound.
They return to the water today to take on a New Zealand side firmly ensconced as favourites after their dominant performance in the Qualifiers, and equally dominant win over Land Rover BAR in their semi-final.
Still, Outteridge believes the momentum his team have built over the past couple of days will make for some close racing.
“It’s nice to be hitting some form now,” the Artemis skipper said. “If we can keep the momentum going that we have had the last few days and keep sailing error-free, that will be our best chance moving forward.”
Much of the confidence that Outteridge has in his side’s chances comes from improvements made to the boat, which he said helped the team to rip around the water during their win over SoftBank. He gave credit to the shore team, who he said had been working around the clock to make things better.
“We have done a lot of work to the boat over the past couple of days and the confidence in the boat has just grown,” he said.
“The design and engineering team have just really sorted out a couple of weaknesses we had and turned those into a strength.
“The shore team guys have been working 24 hours to really give us the confidence in the boat, and if we can keep pushing the boat to its limit over the next couple of days, it’s going to be some incredible racing.”
Iain Percy has had an impact, too, both and off the water, with Outteridge saying the team’s tactician played a crucial role in the four victories that took them from 3-1 down to victory over Team Japan.
“The main thing is that we have simplified our racing slightly,” Outteridge said.
“It’s really easy to get caught up in the battle and forget the details that are required to sail well. Iain Percy had a few words to the team and just reminded us to trust our gut, and to sail the boat to our capabilities.
“On top of that, we have made a nice improvement to the boat, and when you have confidence in your boat, you are able to really push it hard.”
Percy has a crucial role to play today in the first three races of the Challenger final that are scheduled, not least in his communication, which Outteridge pointed to as one of this team’s strong suits.
“We’ve got incredible sailors on our boat like Iain Percy, who, between grinding as hard as he can is giving really good information,” the skipper said.
“For us going into tomorrow, that’s one of our big strong points — our communication and set plays.
“The way we handled the racing against Dean [Barker, the Team Japan skipper] in some really tight racing is going to put us in a strong position for tomorrow.”
Outteridge and Peter Burling, the New Zealand helmsman, have plenty of history when it comes to racing each other on the water.
However, Outteridge said today would be about more than going head-to-head with his counterpart again.
“I’m looking forward to the match-up tomorrow, but it is more than just a race between Peter and myself,” he said.
“It’s two big, well-supported teams going head-to-head. It’s going to be a really good race. The teams are evenly matched and it’s going to come down to how well we sail as a team.”