by Tim Jeffery
The America’s Cup World Series Newport is set to get underway on Thursday June 28 and Oracle Team USA Skipper Jimmy Spithill and crew have their eye on the prize – the 2011-’12 ACWS Season Championship.
ACWS Venice / Oracle Team USA
Oracle Team USA Spithill enters the finale holding a 4-point lead in the overall standings. 'We’ve always just wanted to be in a position to win the championship, and now we’re there,' said Spithill. 'We’ll have a shot to wrap up the season and it’s obviously something we’d like to win. I think we’ll have great turnout in Newport and that’ll help us get the job done.'
Spithill will be racing with his regular crew of tactician John Kostecki, wingsail trimmer Dirk de Ridder, headsail trimmer Joe Newton and bowman Piet van Nieuwenhuijzen. They’ll be racing in U.S. waters for the first time since last November's third round in San Diego when they swept the match and fleet racing championships.
'Newport will be fantastic.' said Spithill. 'We have a huge amount of support there. I think the racecourse and viewing landscape will be great for spectators. I think everyone’s genuinely looking forward to it.'
While Spithill will be gunning for the title, team CEO Russell Coutts returns to the helm of the No. 5 boat for the first time since last September in Plymouth, UK. Coutts handed over the helm to double Olympic medalist Darren Bundock to focus on the event side of the 2013 America’s Cup.
'Newport’s a great venue for racing,' said Coutts, the all-time America’s Cup-winning skipper. 'I’ve raced there a lot and with the racecourse placed along the shore of Fort Adams it will offer fantastic viewing for fans.'
2011-2012 ACWS racing
Oracle Team USA Coutts is aiming to improve on its sixth place in the standings. Coutts will race with wingsail trimmer Kyle Langford, headsail trimmer Simon Daubney, Matt Mitchell on runners and new bowman Sam Newton, who joined the team late last year and has raced high-performance dinghies such as 18-foot Skiffs.
Both crews have been practicing in San Francisco the past 10 days in preparation for the finale. They’ll begin practicing on Narragansett Bay tomorrow. Newport most likely will have more breeze than the fifth round of the 2011-’12 AC World Series in Venice, where huge crowds turned out to watch the racing.
'Newport is the sailing capital of the East Coast, so I think there’ll be a huge turnout,' said Kostecki, the tactician for Spithill. 'I’ve spoken with a lot of people who are looking forward to coming down and watching us race. I think there’ll be a bit more breeze and it’ll also be tricky with the currents, so it should be a great race track.'
The ACWS – Newport Race Village opens tomorrow, June 23, and championship racing is scheduled June 28-July 1. The fleet race finale on July 1 is scheduled to be broadcast live in the U.S. on NBC.
13-05-2012 / Venice (ITA) / 34th America's Cup / ACWS Venice / ORACLE TEAM USA / New Red Bull helmets*** 13-05-2012 / Venice (ITA) / 34th America's Cup / ACWS Venice / ORACLE TEAM USA / New Red Bull helmets
19-05-2012 / Venice (ITA) / 34th America's Cup / ACWS Venice / ORACLE TEAM USA / Racing Day 2*** 19-05-2012 / Venice (ITA) / 34th America's Cup / ACWS Venice / ORACLE TEAM USA / Racing Day 3
2011-’12 America’s Cup World Series Overall Standings:
Team (Country) Match – Fleet — Total (After five of six scheduled events)
1. Oracle Team USA Spithill (USA) 38 – 46 — 84
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 36 – 44 — 80
3. Artemis Racing (SWE) 43 – 28 — 71
4. Energy Team (FRA) 32 – 33 — 65
5. Team Korea (KOR) 30 – 26 — 56
6. Oracle Team USA Coutts (USA) 29 – 24 — 53
7. Luna Rossa Piranha 18 – 16 — 34
8. China Team (CHN) 13 – 15 — 28
9. Green Comm Racing (ESP) 11 – 12 — 23
10. Luna Rossa Swordfish 11 – 10 — 21
Oracle Team USA website