Courtesy of Red Bull Newsroom
Team Oracle USA helmsman downplays past two America’s Cup victories.
James ‘Jimmy’ Spithill insists history means nothing on the eve of the America’s Cup.
Spithill is bidding for a hat-trick of victories in the prestigious event but the Australian has no intention of leaning on his past glories in the battle to win sport’s oldest trophy.
“It’s not about the last America’s Cups – right now our focus is on this America’s Cup,” he said. “I think that if you are involved in this game, it’s because you like to compete against the best in the world.”
The qualifiers for the America’s Cup begin in Bermuda on Friday May 26, in which Spithill’s team will compete in the round-robin format despite being guaranteed a spot as defending champions in the America’s Cup Match itself, which begins on June 17.
The defending champions face opposition from previous runners-up Emirates Team New Zealand, as well as Artemis Racing, Land Rover BAR, Groupama Team France and Softbank Team Japan.
And Spithill warned the race to America’s Cup glory was approaching its most key phase with design and time on the water crucial.
“There isn’t time for rest now,” he said. “In some ways, this is the most important period as we need to make final decisions now on how we configure the boat and how we sail it.
“So it’s a big push not just for the next two weeks but really through the end of the America’s Cup Match.”
Spithill will celebrate his 38th birthday after what is scheduled to be the final race of the entire event, and said he had every intention of giving his team “a chance to have something to celebrate then”.
Team Oracle USA’s skipper has become synonymous with the America’s Cup, the youngest victor of the race in 2010 but having made his debut in the series aged 20 with Young Australia 17 years ago.
In that time, he has seen the format of the technology and racing change beyond all recognition.
“I think two things have changed dramatically in the America’s Cup over the past few years, and Red Bull has been integral to both of them,” he said.
“The first is the move to foiling, and Red Bull supports that with its foiling generation for younger sailors.
“The second is that because of the shift to foiling and more physical boats, the age of the sailors in the America’s Cup has dropped dramatically and the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup is providing a direct pathway for younger sailors to prove their skills and get noticed.
“It’s working. There’s probably nearly a dozen sailors from the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup now sailing in this America’s Cup, including the helmsman of Team New Zealand (Pete Burling). The concept works.”