An unavailability of vessels will see recent Team New Zealand recruit Nathan Outteridge miss the first three events on the new SailGP calendar, with a limited number of boats ready for sailing at this weekend's opening event in Bermuda.
Outteridge, who sails with the Japanese team on the circuit, has driven his team to back-to-back runner-up finishes in the first two offerings of the competition, but have been the team to miss out on sailing early in the new season with just nine boats ready to go for the 10 teams.
For the second straight year, the series has added two teams into the mix, with Canada and Switzerland joining for the 2022 circuit alongside Japan, Australia, USA, Great Britain, New Zealand, France, Denmark and Spain.
Despite Japan being one of the stronger and more consistent teams from a competition standpoint, the decision was made based on "logistical and commercial considerations".
The 10th boat is still under construction at the SailGP Technologies workshop in Warkworth, and Japan aren't expected to be on the water until the series heads to Copenhagen, Denmark, in late August – stop four of the 11 events on the calendar.
"The event made some decision based on a few criteria; one of them is just how much sponsorship that team is bringing in," New Zealand SailGP coach Ray Davies explained.
"When there's a new, fully funded team waiting to get into the circuit that can pay their own way, then they get dibs. I'm sure they had a huge amount of discussion on which team was going to miss out, and it ended up being Nathan's team that haven't been able to secure as much sponsorship, basically, as the other teams.
"It's a pretty tough circuit; there's a huge amount of effort that has to go into that whole side of a team as well. It's not just the results. They sailed incredibly well; Nathan's got a remarkable track record in SailGP and he's often been the guy who has had to deal with changes in his crew.
"Full credit to the New Zealand team that they have been able to secure enough support to not be at the bottom of the pecking order. The team as a whole, it's actually really quite an honour to be part of it. They're really taking the whole game very professionally; all the things that happen on shore with the branding etc., that's also the way this circuit works; that's also a big deal, because next thing you're not on the circuit anymore."
The Japanese team will sail with a bespoke scoring system when they do return, with the team awarded average points for the races they miss based on the first events they do compete in, effectively racing for double points for the first three events in which Japan compete.