Former Japan SailGP driver Nathan Outteridge, has revealed that he will step into the driver position for the Swiss during the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix in Copenhagen next weekend.
Outteridge emphasised that his ‘goal’ is to get Swiss driver Sebastien Schneiter ‘up to speed’.
It comes after Outteridge joined the Swiss team in Plymouth as a sailing advisor and was spotted driving the team’s F50 on practice days while Schneiter observed in the sixth sailor position.
At 26, Schneiter became the youngest driver when Switzerland entered the league at the beginning of this season.
Speaking to SailGP’s Deep Dive podcast, Outteridge said: “I’m just coming in to help as much as I can and really give Seb a platform to work with moving forward – it’s not like I’m going to take over the program and make it the ‘Nathan Outteridge Swiss team’, it’s still Seb’s team and it’s still his crew.”
Future event practice days are likely to follow a similar format, Outteridge said. “In training days, we can share the driving – Seb can watch, then we can hand the wheel over and he can do it as well,”
“Part of my role will be training Seb up to be the best driver that he can be by sharing the experience I’ve had in the class.”
Outteridge is ranked second to Tom Slingsby AUS in overall number of SailGP event victories, winning three events to Slingsby’s 11. Ben Ainslie GBR and Pete Burling NZL are the only other event winners, each with one win.
Boat handling, manoeuvre consistency and decisive starts are key areas of improvement.
Outteridge compared his preferred starting method of ‘being out in the back and sending it through the gaps’ to Schneiter’s more ‘conservative’ style of ‘getting into the front row and pulling the trigger from there’.
“Starting is one area we’ll be working on – no question,” he said.
With Switzerland bottom of the 2022 SailGP leaderboard after three events, it was always on the cards that the Swiss would look to maximise Outteridge’s ‘sailing advisor’ contract with them to gain some traction in this top level event.
When asked why new teams might struggle in the F50 fleet, Outteridge said that the ‘boats are just so difficult to sail’.
The racing format too, which involves ‘tiny’ starting blocks and ‘hitting the line at pace around the fleet’ is ‘tough’, Outteridge said.
Outteridge, who helped develop the F50 class, pointed to the long-awaited triumph of the New Zealand team in Plymouth as evidence that good results take time.
The ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix in Copenhagen is over the weekend of the 19-20 August.