by Tim Jeffery
America's Cup World Series 2011-12 concluded yesterday, Sunday 1st July, in Newport R.I. Oracle Team USA CEO Russell Coutts stood giving an interview to a reporter, reflecting on the final day of racing when team skipper Jimmy Spithill sidled up next to him.
Oracle Team USA - America’s Cup World Series Newport 2012
'Nice work you old bugger. Hey, you still got a few tricks in you. How you feeling, alright?' said Spithill, who turned 33 years old earlier this week and had just been crowned the first-ever America’s Cup World Series overall champion.
'You’re too young to know some of those tricks,' the 50-year-old Coutts shot back with a laugh.
Earlier in the day Coutts had defeated Spithill to win the ACWS – Newport Match Racing Championship. The four time America’s Cup winner then nearly pulled off victory in a thrilling fleet race finale. In a race marked with constant place changes, Coutts showed that he still has a deft touch and steely determination despite having competed little in the past six months.
'We started well in the match race, and that was good. But Jimmy had a couple of problems onboard today, they had a bad furl that killed their race,' Coutts said. 'But I’m really mad that we messed up that fleet race. If we were ever going to win a race, that one would’ve been it.'
Although Coutts finished second the day was full of positives for Oracle Team USA, which is gearing up to defend the America’s Cup in San Francisco in September 2013. Spithill placed second in both the ACWS – Newport fleet and match racing championships, the fourth time in six events that his crew has placed on both podiums. And now it adds the America’s Cup World Series trophy alongside the venerable America’s Cup itself, won in 2010.
'I’m pretty happy with the state of everything,' said tactician John Kostecki. 'Most importantly the World Series seems a huge success. We’ve been through Europe and now here in the States. I think this Newport regatta was a huge success; it’s a really nice venue here. Each event has gotten better and better and San Francisco will be exciting too.'
Oracle Team USA now heads home to its base at Pier 80 in San Francisco for the next four months with a full slate of activities on the schedule. The team’s first AC72 will begin sailing next month, and the first regatta of the 2012-13 America’s Cup World Series is scheduled Aug. 23-26. It’ll be the first time that America’s Cup racing will be featured on the Bay.
'We’re looking forward to getting back home to San Francisco,' said Spithill. 'We have some testing sessions coming up and the launch of the first AC72. That’s an exciting time. And when the ACWS kicks off again it’ll be another level of racing that we’ve seen. You’ll see more thrills and spills, and more teams. It’s exciting. I can’t wait to see the event back in our hometown.'
The first ACWS season visited six venues in four countries, and Coutts voiced satisfaction with the state of the game. But he knows that changes are needed to keep improving.
'The America’s Cup World Series is good right now, but we have to take it to the next level and we’ll see some of that in San Francisco later this summer,' said Coutts.
Oracle Team USA Spithill – Jimmy Spithill (skipper/helmsman) John Kostecki (tactician), Dirk de Ridder (wingsail trimmer), Joe Newton (headsail trimmer), Piet van Nieuwenhuijzen (bowman).
Oracle Team USA Coutts – Russell Coutts (skipper/helmsman), Kyle Langford (wingsail trimmer), Simon Daubney (headsail trimmer), Matt Mitchell (runners), Sam Newton (bowman).
2011-12 America’s Cup World Series Overall Standings
Team (Country) Match – Fleet — Total
1. Oracle Team USA Spithill (USA) 47 – 55 — 102
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 41 – 52 — 93
3. Artemis Racing (SWE) 50 – 32 — 82
4. Energy Team (FRA) 38 – 36 — 74
5. Oracle Team USA Coutts (USA) 39 – 29 — 68
6. Team Korea (KOR) 33 – 33 — 66
7. Luna Rossa Piranha 26 – 26 — 52
8. Luna Rossa Swordfish 15 – 16 — 31
(After six of six scheduled events)
Oracle Team USA website