America’s Cup - Sport

Spithill admits Team NZ were a class above

  • (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Jimmy Spithill, the Oracle Team USA skipper, praised his team for their never-say-die attitude after coming up short in their bid for a third straight America’s Cup triumph.

“Obviously we are extremely disappointed but the guys got to hold their heads up,” Spithill said.

“They fought the entire way and came in today thinking they could win this race and get this show back on the road and come back.

“Our shore team, our support team and friends and family just put in so much blood, sweat and tears for the guys to go out on the water, and it would have been great to reward them with a threepeat.

“But at the end of the day, Emirates Team New Zealand were really a class above and all you can do is really pay respect to that and congratulate them. Man, what a campaign those guys ran.

“When I look at them I don’t see any weaknesses in their campaign. For a lot of us, we thought the fact they were down in New Zealand on their own, maybe they would hurt a little bit from a racing standpoint.

“The rest of us got to do some practice racing here and maybe that was the case during the Qualifiers.

“But, man, did they sharpen up going through the semis and the finals. As a fellow athlete and competitor, all you can do is really take your hat off and pay respect.

“It was a very, very impressive effort and the better team won.”

Spithill singled out Team New Zealand skipper/wing trimmer Glenn Ashby, the sole surviving member on the Kiwis team from those who lost the previous America’s Cup Match in San Francisco after squandering a seemingly impregnable 8-1 lead.

“A lot of credit needs to go to Glenn Ashby and the guys that were on board and involved during San Francisco,” Spithill added. “That was a tough one to go through.

“I certainly feel happy for Glenn and those guys that they were able to come back and face those demons and pull it off.

“Grant Dalton [Team New Zealand owner] and I don’t usually see eye–to-eye, but man what an incredible effort to come from something like that and get it done.“

As for the future of Oracle, Spithill said: “We haven’t even talked about that. All we wanted to focus on was one race at a time. We will just have to see what the future holds.

“The reflection period now is really an important opportunity for our entire team and for me, personally, to really think it through and try and learn those lessons.

“I’ve always said and the team’s had this saying that defeat is nothing but education, and clearly we learnt a lot through this series.

“Champions and championship teams always come back and we need to go back to learn the lessons and grow stronger.”

Spithill said he strongly felt his team could have achieved their primary objective, but admitted unforced errors took a heavy toll.

“I thought we could win if we sailed well and put it all together out there,” he said. “After the first weekend, we were impressed with the step they [Kiwis] had taken from the Qualifiers, but we had time. We had five days to try and get it together.

“The entire group on the land just put everything in they could to give the guys on the water a tool to go out and win — and they did.

“We had the tool to go and win races, but we couldn’t afford almost any mistakes.”