Catching Up With Outteridge
Catching Up With Outteridge
Nathan Outteridge of Artemis Racing shares his insights from his new gig as an AC commentator, and his plans in the 49er, Moth, and beyond.
Your starts against Luna Rossa were aggressive and confident—your comments?
NO: The whole goal for us with starting is that we knew that we were so underprepared, off the speed, and our boathandling wasn’t as good as Luna Rossa so the only way that we had any chance of beating them was to make sure we were leading around Mark 1. So, we could afford to be a little higher risk in the start whereas Chris Draper, even if he followed us around Mark 1, he’d have passed us as some point. So, he was taking the “don’t engage the other boat” approach, which gave us a chance to take advantage as well as we could. But, having said that, the 72 is not an easy boat to sail. We’d only done eight days of training, so you’re kind of going with gut instincts on what the boat is capable of. One thing we never did was any pre-starts. We knew we could do certain maneuvers but there were some things we just didn’t know so we didn’t put ourselves in that position. We got ourselves into positions in the starts where we knew we were confident. The two starts that we clearly won and then the final start where we won but got a penalty, I thought we did everything we could. Percy’s instructions as a tactian, his calls on time and distance were really good. We had no computer system on the boat because we didn’t have time to develop it. We had our instruments and computer systems that told us wind directions and boatspeeds but there was no number that said, “You are 5 seconds from the line.” I see Ray Davies often open up his little iPad and he’s got a display that’s telling him how much time he’s got to burn for a start. Percy’s doing this all on his own, and it was pretty good to hear him say, “You need to go in 10 seconds.”
Seems like you and Iain have really hit off— would you agree with that?
NO: We’ve got a really good relationship working together. I think a lot of that comes from the fact that we’ve both been quite successful in the Olympic classes and running our own programs. A lot of the time there are things that you don’t need to do, and we skip straight past that and get to the important things—we’re pretty good at prioritizing what needs to happen. It was highlighted when we got the blue boat in the water. Perc and I knew we didn’t have much time to do any analyzing. He was really instrumental in working with the wing and helping Goobs out with understanding how the wing works, I was in charge of the wing. We’d touch base every day. We worked really well together and trusted what each of us was doing, which was pretty key. When we’re on the water there’s a huge respect for each other out there. I’ve been sailing with Goobs my whole life so it’s like having another person join our team. Then to get the confidence from everyone else in the team, once they see that a few of the key guys on the boat are working well together and on the same page, then everyone else joins you.
How do you like the team environment?
NO: It was initially pretty daunting. I was brought into the team as a reserve helsman, and at the same time Loick Peyron showed up so we had me, Terry [Hutchinson], and Loick. For the first few months it was just interesting watching the dynamic and try to understand where I’m at, where it would end up this year, and how I could best help the team in whatever capacity. For much of the first few months I was just watching and learning, listening to what was going on, hoping at some point I’d get my chance to drive the boat. As soon as I did, I knew it was important to try to give feedback to the design team because this Cup was all about designing a faster boat. I had nothing to do with the design of the boat, but I could help refine it however I could. I think that’s where I just started to give little bits of feedback and that’s how I got into the team and working with Perc, something I could add value to.
What does it feel like helming something that’s going so fast?
NO: It doesn’t feel like it’s going as quick as it is. Upwind you’ll do 20 knots, and that’s faster than most boats ever do. You feel like you’re just cruising along almost slowly except there is so much wind in your face you know you’re going quickly. Your apparent wind is so strong. Because the boats are so big and heavy and the wing is huge, everything happens quite slowly. When you’re foiling downwind, the boat pulses up and down, but it doesn’t feel that fast. But, the moment the windward hull touches the water and the spray comes up to you, that’s when you realize you’re going quick. Whereas on the foiling 45, it’s smaller and it’s a rough ride, very aggressive and jerky, you’re steering with a tiller, you could feel the loads going through your hand, whereas on the wheel on the 72 it was all smooth and dampened out. But the moment you hit 38 knots or so, it gets really twitchy, and then you feel like you’re going really fast.
Your thoughts on a multihull versus a monohull for the next Cup?
NO: I think no matter what, the boats are going to change again. I think they overstepped the mark slightly in terms of practicality with the 72. If we go back to keelboats again, my opinion it is a step backwards in terms of design and performance. We’re just touching the tip of the iceberg with what we could do with these boats so that would be slightly disappointing for me from my interest in the design and the faster boats. A refinement of what we currently have would be really good—something smaller. It’s going to get faster no matter what, even if we go smaller. What I think is really important if it stays in foiling catamarans is to ensure that the wing sail size comes down quite a bit so that we can start using code zeros because at the moment you watch the racing, and it doesn’t look that exciting because you go around the top mark and nothing changes. For a lot of people watching, especially specatators who don’t know sailing, they ask, "Are they going up or downwind?" How would you know? So we have a need for downwind sails and get rid of the need for people to be grinding for power, or the control systems have proper stored energy on the boat to control the daggerboards and adjust the rudders and wing. Then we won't just have human grinders, we’ll have skilled sailors helping the boat get around the racecourse instead of just powering it. At the moment we basically have three people and then everyone else just grinds—a driver, a wing trimmer, and a jib trimmer, and everyone else at some point is just powering the hydraulic system so you can control the wing or boards. You’re not clicking spinnaker poles on or any of the drama that we saw at the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup.