America’s Cup - Sport

It’s not over yet, pleads Spithill

  • The America’s Cup is slipping away from Jimmy Spithill and Oracle Team USA (File photograph)

Jimmy Spithill, the Oracle Team USA skipper, said it is far too early to write off his team who have yet to get off the mark in their America’s Cup defence against challenger Emirates Teams New Zealand.

The defenders of the “Auld Mug” are down 3-0 in the best-of-13 series and in desperate need of a change of fortunes if they are to retain their title.

However, Spithill is not pushing the panic button just yet — and for good reason.

“This team has been here before, so it’s not over,” Spithill said.

“A big percentage of our team has been through some pretty tough situations — one, the obvious comeback during the last America’s Cup — so this is not the first time we’ve had to bounce back and really respond from a tough situation.

“We’ve been a tough situation before and had to overcome a lot of different challenges and now we’ve got to respond, and this is the group to respond because we’ve got the confidence to do it.

“What’s positive is we won the Qualifiers and we’ve taken race wins off team New Zealand. We’ve proved we can win races against these guys.

“We have to remember that and clearly we’ve got to make some steps forward in boat speed.

“But we can do it and have shown we can do it, given the history and given what’s just happened in the Qualifiers, and we’re a group that’s not afraid of the challenge. Mentally, the guys seem to operate better under high pressure.”

With no racing scheduled until next weekend, Oracle intend to take advantage of the opportunity to iron out the kinks to get their campaign back on track.

“What’s in our favour is we haven’t got just one lay day, we’ve got five days until the next weekend,” Spithill said. “We‘ve got a lot of resource up here at the moment and we will be looking at every single thing we can.

“Nothing will escape our eyes, I can guarantee you that in these next five days; whether it’s system-related, whether it’s appendage-related, sailing technique, strategy — we’re going to look at everything.

“We’ve got some good sailing days coming up over these next five days and we will be under 24-hour shifts.

“The motivation is always there. The team is hungry and a very, very competitive group. But we’re also a quite candid group and it’s quite clear we need to make some changes.

“It’s pretty obvious these guys [Team New Zealand] are faster and we need to make some serious changes.”