America’s Cup - Sport

Spithill rages against the dying of the light

  • Jimmy Spithill (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Jimmy Spithill, the Oracle Team USA skipper, admits the defenders are in a “tough situation” and have a “tall mountain to climb”, but refuses to throw in the proverbial towel just yet.

Back-to-back defeats by challengers Emirates Team New Zealand on the Great Sound yesterday have left Oracle trailing 6-1 in the first-to-seven America’s Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton, with their grip on the “Auld Mug” tenuous at best.

“We’re in a tough situation now and we really have to take this one race at a time now,” Spithill said.

“It’s a tall mountain to climb, there’s no question about that, but we have been here before and the guys are going to fight the whole way.

“All we’re going to do is focus on one race at a time. We definitely have a lot to learn after today. But we will come back swinging tomorrow ready to fight.”

As was the case in San Francisco in 2013, Oracle have dug themselves a deep hole and it will take another incredible comeback if they are to win sailing’s holy grail a third consecutive time.

“Clearly, the plan wasn’t to be in this position again, but we are here,” Spithill said. “Now it’s up to us to respond and react.

“This is clearly a time where you see a team potentially split apart, and what we saw when the boys got ashore was everyone pull in tight and say, ‘this isn’t over’. They haven’t handed over the trophy yet and we are going to come and get stronger and focus on one race now.

“We don’t have to think too much about the end result. All we need to do is focus 100 per cent on executing and winning one race tomorrow, and then we will take it from there.

“We will go back, review it and throw everything back on the table and put a team of people, the boat, the configuration on the water tomorrow we think will give us our best chance of winning.

“I think we can win races, I really do. If we sail well enough, we can win races and that’s what we’re focused on.”

Oracle have managed to gain more speed in the lighter conditions to bridge the performance gap. However, a series of costly unforced errors with their boat-handling has undermined all the hard work that team’s shore team has put in over the past week.

“Clearly we’re in a set-up we think the boat is actually quite quick and very competitive,” Spithill said.

“It’s obviously pushed us a little bit just trying to keep the boat on its feet and keeping it going out there.

“But, having said that, I still think we can win races with this boat. We have proven we can win races and win races against these guys if we sail well.

“We’ve shown we can beat these guys, so it’s not like we’re going into tomorrow never having won a race against Pete [Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling] and the guys — and that’s something we’re going to take into tomorrow.

“But if we make too many mistakes like we did today, we won’t win races.

“Clearly we need to sharpen up and make sure we’re firing on all cylinders when we go up against them.”