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sail-world.com -- America's Cup - Oracle's James Spithill tells it like it is!! (Pt 2)

America's Cup - Oracle's James Spithill tells it like it is!! (Pt 2)    
Wed, 13 Mar 2013

The 2013 America´s Cup is now just six months and the pressure is mounting on all the teams...

Oracle skipper and helm, James (Jimmy) Spithill is a straight talking Australian. Sail-world interviewed the 2010 America´s Cup winning skipper last week. In Part I of this interview Spithill detailed the progress of the Oracle USA team and made some blunt comments about Emirates Team New Zealand. There is more of the same in Part II.

Now we continue:


SW. So the Oracle USA camp is happy with your situation six months out from the Cup?

JS. We are happy with the progress we have been making. We have obviously got a lot of work we have got to do and every time we spend more time on the water is a big deal.

Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa have been racking up good on water time but they are going to lose some time too as they are going to have to ship those boats up here eventually.

SW. Very big boats, when they sail around a windward leeward course it is really just one tack and one gybe. It is all so fast. This course is narrow. Does that mean you are going to bounce around the track more?

JS. Yes a little bit. The boats now can sail at pretty deep angles downwind but it will be a lot like the AC45 World Series. They will just have boundaries pretty tight to the spectators. There will still be a fair bit of maneuvering involved.

I think you are probably looking at around three gybes depending on where the top mark is. You are probably looking at around four or five tacks. The other factor will be the current as well.

SW. Along the San Francisco shore you can get bounce of wave coming back off the shore and wind against tide. What affect has that had on you?

JS. Yes. When the current is fully ripping it can produce a bit of a chop but otherwise these boats, you feel the waves a lot more in the 45s than you do in the 72. It is not like we are racing outside. We are inside in a 72 foot boat. It’s less than an issue.

One thing that does happen every time during an America’s Cup is there is a lot of big powerboats and a lot of spectators and that usually does whip up choppier and confused conditions compared to what it is normally.

SW. What kind of data input are you, as the driver getting around the course?’

Pretty much normal stuff. The loads of the boat are pretty important. Wind speed, boat speed, wind angles, the targets. There is no real new information. It is all standard stuff. Because it is a short course it is not like you are navigating your way around. It is more sort of head up sailing. You don’t really have time to be looking at too many instruments.

You are really just looking at the land and anticipating just like in any fast boat.

SW. The 2013 Red Bull Youth Program a lot different to your days as a 20 year old with Syd Fischer Young Australia campaign back in 2000?

JS. Yes. I reckon. They didn’t have Red Bull girls walking around handing out cans of drink, that’s for sure. What a fantastic opportunity. I was pretty lucky when I was younger but, man, all the guys are in our team in their 30s, 40s or 50s, they are all jealous.

Just to see the faces of these kids. There is so much energy there and they are all so excited. More important is there is so much talent there. A few of us have been out there and watched them out on the water. A few senior guys have got out on the back of the boats. These young guys are talented and it is pretty impressive to see how organized they are on the shore. Their whole approach. The training. The physical side. That is going to be a really good series.

It will come down to the best team. The 45s are complete one design and I think a lot of people sail well in a two man boat but as soon as you have got a team of five or six well that’s quite a big difference.

They have done studies on this. Every time you add another person to try and get the group to work together goes up quite a lot. It gets quite a lot harder. I think all of these young teams are seeing just how challenging it is.

The team work, the co-ordination, the communication, especially on a boat you have got to push to get the most out of it and things are happening quite quick. When things start to go bad it is not very to recover or if you make a mistake, u turns and things, you really get punished for it on the race course.

These young guys that are coming from Skiffs and multi hulls, they are pretty good sailors and they have got a lot of talent and I think it will be incredible racing. Across the board that has been the cool thing is that there is a lot of countries out there that are really competitive. Certainly the favourites now going into it I would be expecting that everyone has got a shot.

SW. Valencia, which was a tri with a wing against cat with soft sails, hardly a fair fight. This is going to be a lot closer?

JS.The last Cup in Valencia the biggest difference was we had a much more powerful boat. We had more righting moment and stability.

Moving forward to this event, every boat has got to be the same weight. Every one is the same length. The wings are the same area etc., The righting moments will be the same. It is really going to come down to the sailing of these boats and getting them round the track.

SW. Who is going to drive your second boat during final work up?

JS. Ben (Ainslie) for sure. Ben and I will be helming. Darren (Bundock) has been helping both of us in the World Series. He is obviously a good helmsman. It is really Ben and I are going to work together and really push each other the whole way up and that’s exciting.

He is one of the best sailors in the world and we have got a lot of depth in our team. Not just the guys driving it. There is a lot of talent there. It is exciting for us because I think we will be able to push each other and really up our game.

SW. These days are you doing any sailing other than the occasional Moth?

It’s just so hard to. This is really a full time job. It is just so difficult. You are flexible and it really sails any day. It is difficult. We have got some Moths that we are trying to get out on which is quite a bit of fun. I am going to start getting into some kiteboard racing. That’s something else I am excited about. That’s kicking off pretty soon.

It is a shame I am not going to Naples but I am pleased there as well as I think it is a great opportunity for Tom Slingsby. He is going with a few of the young guys on the team and I think that is really going to improve Tom and that will be of real value to us as we go into the summer.

SW. Who will be doing tactics on the two 72’s when you are working up?

JS. We have plenty of options. Obviously John Kostecki, Tommy. We have got Darren again. Obviously Russell (Coutts). Murray Jones. One of the cool things with the people we have got and with the boats you need to (drive) all round and fill a few roles.

Even in the 45s the tacticians one minute they are looking at the perimeter, they help hoisting a sail or pulling a sheet on.

It is sort of like a rugby game. You might be in the back line but every now and again you have got to get into the ruck and get the ball out.

It’s not just Kiwis that can play that game!

SW. Any other comments on the Challenger program?

JS. Yes. Grant Dalton (Emirates Team New Zealand) constantly whenever he gets asked something in the media about Oracle he makes the statement that we have got unlimited resources and we can do anything we like.

It is just complete crap. Larry Ellison didn’t get to where he was by just throwing money. We have got a budget and we have to stick to it and we have to make compromises and sacrifices and for some reason part of their strategy is to go out and try act like the little team out there.

They have got a big budget. A really big budget. Him just going around saying we have got unlimited resources is just complete bullshit.

SW. They are spending more money than you?

JS. I don’t know. I can see that they are spending a lot of money. More than they make out that they have got. They have just got a huge design team and Dalton saying we have got unlimited resources is just complete crap.



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Read Part I of the Interview

by Rob Kothe



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