Sailing

Spithill wants America’s Cup return

  • Spithill says he is not sure he will get over Oracle’s defeat on the Great Sound (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Jimmy Spithill said he wants another crack at the America’s Cup after skippering Oracle Team USA’s drubbing at the hands of Emirates Team New Zealand in Bermuda this summer.

The Australian, twice a winner of the Auld Mug, told a New Zealand radio station that he did not want his America’s Cup career to end with the 7-1 defeat by Team New Zealand in AC35 on the Great Sound in June.

“I don’t even know if I will ever get over Bermuda, but I can’t leave it like that,” Spithill said on an interview with Newstalk ZB. “I love the game. I’m pretty much obsessed with it and, for sure, my plan is to try and get back there, and I’m sure you guys would love to hear, get that Cup back off New Zealand.”

Speculation is rife that Oracle will not enter AC36 in Auckland four years from now. Bob Fisher, the British sailing writer, wrote in Yachts and Yachting that Larry Ellison, the co-founder of Oracle Corporation, was set to turn his back on the America’s Cup. Fisher reported that he had received an e-mail from Sir Russell Coutts, the chief executive of the team and the America’s Cup Event Authority in Bermuda, that wrote: “My understanding is that Oracle/Larry will not be entering.”

Spithill did not say whether he knew what Ellison’s plans were, and said: “I would love to see Larry back in the game ... either way, I want back in.”

The 38-year-old, who led Oracle to victory in 2010 and 2013, did not mention whether he was in talks with any potential employers for AC36. With Team New Zealand set to announce the 2021 protocol this month.

“A lot of people who have either been in the America’s Cup game, or potential owners or founders of teams who are thinking about coming back into the Cup game,” he said. “You can’t really make any official statement until you know where the goalposts are. Until everyone gets to read and see the protocol it’s probably unlikely that you would get too many official responses from anyone interested in the game.”

One thing that seems certain is that the next America’s Cup will go back to monohulls, after the Kiwis released a statement this week saying: “there is an overall desire to have a spectacular monohull yacht that will be exciting to match race, but also one that the public and sailors can relate to as a sailboat that really challenges a full crew of professional yachtsmen around the racetrack”.

The past two versions of the race used foiling catamarans, that Spithill has been a staunch supporter of, but also, breaking a habit of a career, had some nice things to say about New Zealand.

“If you asked any of the sailors out there, they would say the foiling cats were amazing, incredible,” Spithill said. “All of us that were fortunate enough to sail those AC50s are having huge withdrawals now, because you take it for granted being able to get out there on a boat like that ... man, just pushing your boat and yourself to the limit.

“But at the end of the day, whatever my opinion is, the fact is we all signed up knowing whoever won the America’s Cup gets to shape the next event. That has always been the case and that’s not something new.

“Whatever happens — and it sounds like it’ll be back in a monohull — I started my America’s Cup career in New Zealand, I’ve spent a lot of time there ... and let’s face it, it’s just such a fantastic venue for it, because people are just so into it, and so passionate about it.”