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Japan SailGP bring on board Francesco Bruni ahead of season opener

Significant reinforcements: the Japan SailGP team have bolstered their line-up with eight-times world champion Francesco Bruni and Olympic bronze medal-winner Chris Draper ahead of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess this weekend

The Japan SailGP Team has announced the headline signings of Italian sailor and eight-times world champion Francesco Bruni and Great Britain's Chris Draper, taking on the roles of flight controller and wing trimmer respectively.

Having narrowly missed out on the championship title in the inaugural season, chief executive and helm Nathan Outteridge has bolstered his team ahead of the Season 2 opener, the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess this weekend.

As well as the all-star Japanese line-up of Leo Takahashi, Tim Morishima and Yuki Kasatani, who were part of the successful team that were runners-up in Season 1, Bruni joins fresh from the 36th America’s Cup where he was co-helm of Luna Rossa, alongside Jimmy Spithill, who is now a rival as helm of the United States team.

Previously, he competed alongside Outteridge at the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda and made a formidable pairing, which they hope will put them in a strong position when they line up against the other world-class teams.

“SailGP is a fantastic event and I am looking forward to getting to Bermuda, meeting the team and learning my new role,” Bruni said.

“I watched all of Season 1 and was impressed with the racing, and am very much looking forward to being back on foiling catamarans again.”

Meanwhile, Olympic bronze medal-winner Draper is no stranger to SailGP, having served as wing trimmer for the British team in Season 1.

Draper adds a wealth of experience in foiling boats, having competed in two previous America’s Cups, as well as bringing insight from one of his new team’s main competitors.

“I’ve been lucky enough to sail with some incredible teams during my career and joining the Japan team is the culmination of that,” he said. “I am immensely proud to race with the team and continue at the highest level in our sport.

“This is a going to be epic and we’re all supercharged and ready for it!”

World-class female sailors Wakako Kajimoto and Sena Takano complete the team for SailGP Season 2 and will join during different stages of the season, with Kajimoto, the former Japanese national champion and London 2012 Olympian, racing in Bermuda, Italy and England.

Takano, a former junior world champion and Rio 2016 Olympian, will participate in Denmark, France and Spain. One of the two will then be selected for the final events of the season.

“I am really excited for the season ahead and to bring Francesco and Chris into the team — both sailors that I have the utmost respect for and that will bring huge passion and experience to the team,” Outteridge said.

“They will both really complement the existing talent we have in Leo, Tim and Yuki, plus our new female signings, Wakako and Sena.

“Season 2 is going to be fantastic. What more could you wish for as sailors — competing against the sport’s best athletes in identical, supercharged boats and at iconic cities around the globe.

“The competition is going to be fierce but as runner-up in Season 1, our new signings show that we certainly mean business this year.”

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Published April 21, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated April 20, 2021 at 9:36 pm)

Japan SailGP bring on board Francesco Bruni ahead of season opener

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