Three Australian members of the Swedish former-America’s Cup syndicate Artemis Racing have been announced as the core crew for the Japan SailGP Team for the new circuit’s inaugural season next year.
Artemis helmsman Nathan Outteridge, wing trimmer Iain Jensen and grinder Luke Parkinson will fill the key roles within the new Japanese squad as helmsman/CEO, wing trimmer and flight controller respectively.
Although SailGP rules prescribe 100 per cent home country nationality for the competing crews, for the opening season this is reduced to 40 per cent the Chinese and Japanese teams. This ratio will increase by 20 per cent over seasons two and three.
Japanese sailors Yugo Yoshida, Yuki Kasatani and Leo Takahashi will all serve in the grinder role in season one.
Yoshida represented Japan in the 470 class at the Olympic Games London 2012 and several world championships. He made his high-performance foiling catamaran debut with SoftBank Team Japan at the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda, alongside SailGP teammate Kasatani – a former national-level rowing champion.
Meanwhile, 19-year old Takahashi is the youngest athlete in SailGP. He has been a member of the Japan National Team since 2015 and was part of Japan’s 2017 Youth America’s Cup effort.
Today’s announcement re-unites Jensen with his former 49er helmsman with whom he won Olympic gold at London 2012 and silver at Rio 2016.
Jensen and Parkinson – who won the 2015-16 Volvo Ocean Race with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing before joining Artemis Racing for the 35th America’s Cup in San Francisco – are both also members of the British America’s Cup syndicate INEOS Team UK led by Sir Ben Ainslie.
Meanwhile Outteridge has been Olympic campaigning with his sister Haylee in the twin-trapeze foiling Nacra 17 catamaran class and had been linked to the skipper role with rumoured Italian America’s Cup syndicate Columbus 2021.
On paper at least the Japanese team is arguably the strongest of the last of the six international SailGP squads now announced ahead of the series’ first event in Sydney in February 2018.
“We have put together a strong team with a wealth of experience from around the world,” Outteridge commented. “It’s a mix of top-level international and Japanese sailors along with highly skilled technicians. Our goal now is to develop this group of talented individuals into a truly first-class sailing team.”