On the Team

Softbank Team Japan has a mandate to have Japanese sailors on its squad, and after conducting hyper-intensive tryouts in Japan, two sailors emerged: one an Olympic sailor and the other, a top-level rower. Meet Yugo and Yuki.

Demonstrating the physical demands required of the AC45s and AC50 come race time, Team Softbank Japan called forth an eager field of sailors looking to crack into the AC sailor vault. And after three months of selections, skipper Dean Barker and team management announced their finalists, Yugo Yoshida and Yuki Kasatani, are headed to Bermuda to train. Here's the official word from team PR specialist Matt Knighton today.

“Right from day 1 of the trials it became clear there were 6 applicants very much in the running for the two available places on the team,” said team skipper and CEO Dean Barker. “However Yuki and Yugo really stood out in all areas of the testing process. Although very different athletes they both had the drive to earn their rights to the two positions.”

Yugo Yoshida, age 31, is an experienced Olympic 470 sailor and comes to the team following campaigns competing in the 2012 London Olympic games as well as several ISAF Sailing World Championships. Yuki Kasatani, age 26, joins the sailing team as a strong competitive rower having competed in the All Japan Cup since 2009 most recently competing in the Coxed Pair and Double Scull events. Both athletes will move to Bermuda immediately to start integrating with the team and begin an intense training regimen preparing them with the physical strength and stamina needed to sail team’s new AC45S race yacht. During races, the new power hungry design of the yacht will push both sailors through a non-stop grinding competition for 20 minutes as they power the hydraulic pumps that adjust the control surfaces on the boat.

In America’s Cup competition, teams are not allowed to use engines to sail the yacht – all processes must be human powered.

While not having raced foiling multihull sailboats before, the outstanding fitness abilities of both athletes will be a massive benefit to SoftBank Team Japan – directly impacting how fast the team can push the boat and pull off complex maneuvers.

“Training wise, Yuki and Yugo's goals will be slightly different,” said team tactician and sailing manager Chris Draper. “Yugo has a wealth of sailing experience so will be looking to transfer his skills and understanding to the foiling boats. Yuki will be looking to build his knowledge about the boats and been on the water in a different way to what he knows.”

The selection of Yugo and Yuki follows a three-day tryout in Zushi, Japan where 22 Japanese athletes were put through rigorous fitness and sailing tests to determine who would be invited to join the team. “It's a great time for the team. The trials were a fantastic few days and Yugo and Yuki gave everything they had. Their skill set is everything we could have hoped for and more. We are all very pleased to have them joining us.”

Yugo Yoshida and Yuki Kasatani join Softbank Team Japan after three months of intensive trials.Matt Knighton/Softbank Team Japan