Cash-strapped Japan ruled out of SailGP Season 3 opener
Japan will not be at the start line when Season 3 of SailGP gets under way in the Great Sound today because of a lack of funding.
Nathan Outteridge, Japan’s Australian helmsman, made the sensational revelation this morning at the press conference to launch Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess.
The Olympic and nine-times world champion over a variety of classes confirmed that the future of the 2021 runners-up has been placed in doubt by the development.
“It’s a really interesting situation to be a developing nation building Japanese sailing talent, then coming second the first two seasons, then to not be racing now,” Outteridge said at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club.
“It’s a little tough but I fully understand the situation. This event is just not about results on the water; it’s about making the teams financially successful as well, and that’s where we are really struggling at the moment.
“We have identified great sailing talent in Japan and we have been getting great results in the water. But we haven’t got the financial backing that we need to be on the start line for this weekend.”
Japan have loaned their boat to Canada, who, along with Switzerland, are making their SailGP debut in Bermuda’s waters.
“Everyone is aware that we now have two fully funded teams joining the league with Switzerland and Canada, which requires ten boats to start and the tenth boat is not ready,” Outteridge added. “So we’ve loaned the boat to Canada and loaned them a wing trimmer and a coach for the week. We wish them all the best and we’re looking forward to getting back on the start line.”
Outteridge hopes to return to league by the time of the Denmark Sail Grand Prix in August.
“It looks like boat ten should be back online for the Copenhagen event,” he said. “It’s a moving target as you know trying to build boats and travel things around the world. It’s quite tough and never confirmed.”
Having been ruled out of the Season 3 opener, Outteridge and his team-mates have taken advantage of the rare opportunity to spend considerable time practising in the F50 this week.
“It’s been really nice of all the teams to loan us their equipment,” he added. “We know they are fragile pieces of equipment and I really appreciate the trust everyone has given up to get on the water and get some sailing time in.
“But, really, the team’s main focus right now is finance. If we can’t secure finance, there’s a real possibility that we might not make it to Denmark.
“If we don’t get some financial investment, there are other teams and franchises out there who want to enter this league. I am well aware that if we can’t get some money together, then the team could be sold to another country and I might not see you guys again.
“If there is anyone out there who would like to help us get some finance together, whether it’s people from Japan or people from around the world, I’d love to have a conversation with you.”