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New look Japan SailGP Team for Season 2

by SailGP 6 Feb 23:51 PST
Japan SailGP Team © SailGP

After a very successful first season, just missing out on the Championship trophy, the Japan SailGP Team has unveiled a new lineup for SailGP Season 2 in 2020. With the objective of increasing the nationality rule for Season 2 from 40% to 60%, the new team in 2020 features a new Japanese sailor on the boat, while the team bids farewell to two seasoned veterans.

Nathan Outteridge remains at the helm

Outteridge will again be returning as skipper and helmsman - having led the team to a very successful first season in 2019, winning the New York SailGP and narrowly missing out on winning the overall championship in Marseille. There is no doubt Outteridge will be keen to have another shot at the top prize in 2020. Outteridge has been working on reshaping the sailing team and is confident that he has put together a strong squad for the second season of the global championship featuring the world's fastest on-water racing.

New wing trimmer

Today the team is happy to announce the starting lineup for the Japan SailGP Team for Season 2, adding a new face in Ayden Menzies.

Menzies of Australia will be joining the team as wing trimmer replacing the outgoing Iain Jensen. Menzies has big shoes to fill but the team is confident that he will be capable of stepping up to the challenge. Menzies has a wealth of experience with the F50, he worked with SailGP during the sea trials of the boats in 2018 and has been a member of Japan's shore team, running the wing program in Season 1. He has a long standing sailing relationship with Outteridge, way back to youth sailing days where the two of them won consecutive gold medals at the Youth World Sailing Championship, needless to say, Menzies will fit in nicely on board with Outteridge and the crew.

"I am hugely excited to step into the wing trimming role, replacing Iain will be a tough ask but I'm up for the challenge and counting down to the first race of the season," said Menzies.

Sitting just in front of Menzies onboard will be Leo Takahashi, who is making the move from grinder to flight controller for the second season of SailGP. Takahashi, who is also campaigning for the Tokyo 2020 Games, spent the majority of Season 1 at the front of the boat alongside Yuki Kasatani on the grinding handles, providing the power to trim the 24 meter wing sail. This year Takahashi will trade muscle and brute strength for finesse and accuracy, as the young Japanese athlete pilots the boat around the racecourse at speeds up to 50 knots / 60 mph.

"I am really excited for my new role. It comes with a lot of responsibility and new challenges," said Takahashi. "Yes, it will be no easy task, but I have had a great season of lessons last year and a great team environment to learn fast. It was great to have Luke and Goobs (Iain) last year, it was great to learn from them and the wealth of knowledge was invaluable to the team."

Yuki Kasatani from Osaka will be back as the number one grinder for another shot at the championship. Kasatani is infamously known for crash tackling the grinding pedestal during a particularly crazy day of racing in Cowes (UK). Kasatani was the powerhouse of the team in Season 1 and has spent the off-season training in his home city of Tokyo, putting countless hours in the gym to ensure he can be bigger, stronger and more prepared for the season ahead.

"In Season 2 there will be a lot of new things such as the different sized wings and the new teams from Denmark, Great Britain, and Spain," said Kasatani. "All of the teams will be preparing for Season 2 based on the data and experience from Season 1 so the races would be tougher, which I like."

After being voted as "most improved team member", it comes as no surprise that Tim Morishima has been promoted to the starting list for Season 2. With Takahashi moving into the flight controller position, Morishima steps off the bench into the starting line up as grinder/jib trimmer.

"I'm absolutely thrilled to be joining Japan SailGP Team as a full time athlete. It's such a privilege being able to work within a team of this professional dynamic, and I'm so proud to represent Japan on the world stage in the top sailing league that exists." Said Morishima.

Having started with the team in Sydney as a volunteer helping the shore crew, it quickly became apparent that not only was Morishima handy on the tools, but he also had the skills and attitude that the sailing team was looking for. By the second SailGP event in San Francisco, Morishima competed in his first race as a grinder which resulted in a race win. Morishima spent the rest of the season as a reserve grinder and made the most of having some very experienced athletes to learn from, making fantastic progress throughout the year. He now finds himself in the starting list and the team looks forward to seeing him continue to develop throughout the year.

"It has been a challenging journey getting here, but to finally make it to this level is a dream come true," said Morishima. "This season is going to be even more exciting than the first: 7 teams, 5 venues, I can't wait to show the world what Japanese sailing is made of!"

This year Yugo Yoshida (Karatsu, Saga) will be shifting his focus to helping his wife Ai Kondo win Japan a gold medal in the Olympic 470 class. Yoshida was an important member of the team in Season 1 serving the team as a grinder and training up the younger Japanese talent. The team looks forward to continuing to work with Yugo once the Olympics are over.

Farewell to Iain Jensen and Luke Parkinson

Two-time Olympic medallist Iain Jensen (wing trimmer) and around the world race winner Luke Parkinson (flight controller) joined the Japan SailGP Team for the first season on a one year contract with the goal of training up the young Japanese athletes. The two highly accomplished athletes have done a fantastic job sharing their wealth of knowledge throughout the team and the involvement of the pairing was crucial to the team's success in 2019. The Japan SailGP Team would like to thank Iain and Luke for everything that they brought to the team in 2019 and wishes them all the best in their future endeavors.

"We have always known that Iain and Luke would only be with us for our first season so, in the background, we have been working hard to capture their knowledge and transfer it onto the rest of the team," said Japan SailGP Team helm and CEO Nathan Outteridge. "I have been good friends with both Iain and Luke for a long time and I personally want to thank them for the impact that they have made to our team and want to wish them all the best for the future endeavors."

Stay tuned for Sydney SailGP

The global championship returns to Sydney Harbour on February 28-29. Tickets are available at SailGP.com/Sydney. After Sydney, SailGP returns to San Francisco (May 2-3) and New York (June 12-13), ahead of the first European event of the year in Cowes on the Isle of Wight (August 14-15) before heading to Copenhagen for the first time in September (11-12). The remainder of the schedule will be announced in February.

The Japan team will face stiff competition from reigning champions Australia, France, Great Britain and the United States as well as new teams Denmark and Spain.

Japan SailGP Team

Name / Position / Age

Nathan Outteridge / Helmsman / 34
Ayden Menzies / Wing Trimmer / 34
Leo Takahashi / Flight Controller / 21
Tim Morishima / Grinder/Jib Trimmer / 23
Yuki Kasatani / Grinder / 30

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