Please select your home edition
Edition
Cyclops 2020 - SmartlinkNano - LEADERBOARD

Jimmy Spithill Interview: "The AC75 is quite a lot different from past boats"

by Red Bull Content Pool 16 Sep 2020 20:25 BST
Jimmy Spithill © Sander van der Borch / Red Bull Content Pool

Australian Jimmy Spithill has been the skipper and helmsman behind two America's Cup victories and believes that his new Italian team Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli can reclaim sailing's biggest prize as he travels to Auckland for the PRADA Cup challenger series.

Spithill won his first title in 2010 thanks to BMW Oracle Racing's 2-0 victory over Swiss team Alinghi, then followed up in 2013 with Oracle Team USA by coming back from a -2 penalty score at the start to win 9-8 on the final race from Emirates Team New Zealand.

For his latest tilt at the famous trophy, the 41-year-old must first get his Italian boat past two American teams and the British boat led by Olympic legend Sir Ben Ainslie for the chance to challenge defending champions Emirates Team New Zealand from March 6-21, 2021.

Here is what the Sydney native had to say from Luna Rossa's Sardinian base ahead of the autumn trip to compete on New Zealand water:

How are things coming there in Sardinia?

We've been testing and developing multiple components, and we're getting close to finishing development of Boat 2. Meanwhile, we already have some team members in New Zealand and our base is starting to go up there.

Will you definitely be the person at the helm in Auckland?

We're going to nail down our crew once we get a bit closer to the racing. In sport, nothing is definite!

How difficult is it to move a team and assets almost 19,000km in the current conditions?

It is always a big logistic operation in the America's Cup and, given COVID, it's even bigger. We have to do it on a staggered basis because only so many people are allowed to land in New Zealand each day and it's not just the 100 people on the team. Take me - I have a wife and two kids, so it's four of us. Our plan is to be operating in Auckland in mid-October.

The AC75 that you'll be sailing - has there ever been a boat like this?

No. It's quite a lot different from the boats in the past two America's Cup cycles. Those were foiling catamarans, but this is something else completely - a monohull with hydraulic foil arms. Though in one way it does remind me of the AC72 we sailed in 2013, because that was so new and no one had done it before. This feels like just as big a step.

What about your teammates?

It's a great mix. We have sailors who have been involved in successful America's Cup programs and a range of disciplines in the sport, and some really good young Italian talent who have impressed me. The next generation are so much further educated and developed coming in. Thanks to technology, they've had access to watch and learn and get themselves up to speed and, ultimately, they put the team before themselves. That's the most critical thing.

Luna Rossa has to race against three teams in the PRADA Cup to clinch the Challenger spot in the America's Cup Match, so it's not a given that you'll be facing New Zealand...

No, not at all. The Challenger Selection Series is going to be extremely tough. Every team has what they need in terms of resources, so it will come down to the team that makes the best decisions and can win races.

You've been in the America's Cup as both Challenger and Defender. Which do you prefer?

If I could choose, I'd be the Defender because you've got a 50 per cent chance of winning. Although being the Defender is also extremely difficult, because you have a target on your back and you have to help organise and run the event. As much as you try to separate the racing from the other side, that part still takes some energy. Plus, as the Defender, you just don't get to race as much... but I'd still want to be the Defender.

You skippered Oracle Team USA against New Zealand in the past two America's Cup matches, and you're an Australian to boot. Will you be public enemy number one in Auckland?

You know, New Zealand is an amazing place, and Kiwis really appreciate competitive teams. They respect nothing more than a team that leaves it all on the battlefield, like their own Team New Zealand or the All Blacks, and that's what we aim to do on Luna Rossa too.

So, in other words, you've got a lot of respect for each other?

Yes, and I respectfully want to beat them!

Related Articles

America's Cup: Tom Whidden's take-outs from AC36
Three times America's Cup winner Tom Whidden looks back at the 36th America's Cup and technology Three times America's Cup winner and President of North Technology Group, Tom Whidden, shared some insights into the 36th America's Cup during a Wednesday Yachting Luncheon hosted by Ron Young of St Francis Yacht Club, San Francisco. Posted on 20 Jun
America's Cup: Spanish ratchet up Cup stakes
America's Cup: Valencia comes up with innovative hosting approach Backers of Valencia's bid to stage the 37th America's Cup believe they can access a €750 billion fund established by the European Union to assist member countries to recover from the economic effects of the COVID pandemic. Posted on 18 Jun
Valencia in this mix to host 37th America's Cup
Existing, ready-for-use, tailored infrastructures and previous hosting experience Valencia's successful history in hosting the America's Cup, its existing, ready-for-use, tailored infrastructures made positioning Valencia's as potential host for the next event obvious. Posted on 18 Jun
America's Cup: NZ Govt confirm $100m declined
Kiwi Government confirm ETNZ Board has said "Thanks, but no thanks". The Minister responsible for the America's Cup has confirmed the joint Crown-Auckland Council offer to host the next regatta has been declined by the Board of Team New Zealand. Posted on 15 Jun
America's Cup: Steady hand on helm at Briefing
“The writing is on the wall” for a Cup defence in Auckland - reaction from RNZYS Members Briefing The America's Cup briefing for Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron members only, turned into a rather low-key affair, with no major announcements. Posted on 15 Jun
America's Cup set to go offshore until COVID fades
A traditional America's Cup defence is not expected to be conducted in Auckland until COVID fades On Thursday, the 90 days "good faith" negotiation period ends for Auckland to be Host Venue of the 37th America's Cup. The outcome is expected to be that a traditional America's Cup defence will not be conducted in Auckland. Posted on 15 Jun
Team NZ Board Chair hits back at fake media claims
Tindall responds angrily to claims he is offside with the team's plans for its fourth Cup Defence. Sir Stephen Tindall, the recently resigned Chairman of the Board of Team New Zealand has responded angrily to media claims that his retirement is "proof positive" he is offside with the team's plans to go offshore for its fourth Cup Defence. Posted on 14 Jun
Suzanne McFadden wins supreme sports award
Suzanne McFadden has been instrumental in the upsurge in coverage of women's sport Leading America's Cup correspondent, Suzanne McFadden has been instrumental in the upsurge in coverage of women's sport in this country and was recently named New Zealand sport journalist of the year. She looks back at her career in this podcast with YNZ. Posted on 14 Jun
Brad Butterworth on winning four America's Cups
Shirley Robertson's talks with one of the most successful tacticians of the modern era From the America's Cup to the Whitbread, the Admirals Cup to the Sydney Hobart, NZ's Brad Butterworth has been at the sharp end of competitive sailing for his entire adult life, and has a grand prix sailing CV few could match. Posted on 9 Jun
America's Cup: Board Chairman Tindall exits ETNZ
Sir Stephen Tindall is retiring as Chairman and Director of the Board of Emirates Team Sir Stephen Tindall is retiring as Chairman and Director of the Board of Emirates Team New Zealand after a long and successful tenure as Director of the four times America's Cup winning team. Posted on 4 Jun