Please select your home edition
Edition
Protector 728x90

Katie Spithill- Helming an AC45 and the Olympic Match Racing Decision

by Damian Devine on 16 Jul 2011
Katie Spithill, the first woman to helm an AC45 with brother James in San Francisco James Spithill

Sail-World correspondent, Damien Devine recently interviewed former World #2 ranked match racer Katie Spithill

Katie is currently in Weymouth training with AST and RPAYC mates Nicky Souter and Jess Eastwell.

Katie Spithill, you recently did a trip to San Fran to catch up with brother James and check out the AC45’s and the new AC set up. I believe you were the first female to be lucky enough to helm an AC45. Along with James and his Oracle Racing Team you experienced first hand the power of these awesome machines. It’s a great opportunity to get a female perspective on the boats and how they fit into match racing and the multihull scene in general. So…

What do you think of the 45’s?

Spithill: Wow – I don’t know where to start, the first thing I said after we hit the dock after the days racing & training was 'Can I have one?' The AC45 was great, it is a fantastic multihull to choose to be involved in the Americas Cup.

Being a match racer and now a F18 sailor, how do you think the match racing aspect will work with these boats?


Spithill: Being onboard one of the two Oracle boats whilst they were Match Racing gave me a real insight as to how it is already working using these mutlihulls to Match Race. Not only was it fast, ever changing and exhilaration, there was also a fear factor in there of ‘will we cross, we will meet’ etc whilst the boats are fast closing in on each other at 25+ knots of boat speed.

Unlike the Old AC Boats or many match racing boats these boats are fast moving and need a lot of foresight and anticipation in relation to what will happen next, so that the runners can be loaded, the daggerboards changed, the gennaker furled, etc before you can tack or gybe.

Do you think it could be sailed by an all female crew?

Spithill: The age old question! It is not a question of if it can be done but more so when it will be done. It has been done in the past by the likes of Dawn Riley and the Mighty Mary team back in 1995 when she beat greats like Conners and Cayard. Women can do just fine in the AC when the position and circumstances are right; Just the same as any male team. Forcing it to be an all female team is not a good plan. Integrate women in a proper way and you'll have something, Drivers, Tacticians? Yes. Girls can compete with men on equal terms there, but there is no way that an all girl crew can be competitive when brute force is a key component. Unless of course there were more of them, and this is already the case in some match race classes.

Right now I have my head down on the goal of the Olympics 2012, but the Americas Cup is also in my mind for the future.


Any plans to put a team together?

Spithill: The Americas Cup has always been in my sights, and now that I have been sailing on the AC45s I am absolutely hooked. First and foremost I will continue with my Olympic Campaign Bid leading to 2012 and go from there.

Where are you at with your Olympic Campaign?

Spithill: Due to a management decision last month from the Australian Sailing Team I have been sidelined from the right to skipper for the Australian Women’s Match Racing Squad leading to London 2012 Olympics. This came as quiet a shock given my experience, ranking and results to date and I am still waiting for answers to justify this decision.

I have since then joined forces with current World #2 Ranked Women’s Match Racer Nicky Souter ( who as you know is a former World Champion) as her bowman/tactician to strengthen and continue our campaign together towards 2012.

What other multihull sailing are you doing?

Spithill: My husband (Grant Pellew), and I race an F18 Cat together which is fantastic. Unfortunately at this stage I spend 80% of the year in Europe/America, so we don’t get a lot of time for it. Whilst we have qualified a spot for the F18 World Championships the past 2 years in a row we have been unable to compete on either occasion due to my other match racing commitments. I am returning home in a few weeks to compete in the AUS F18 Nationals up at Magnetic Island with Grant so we can qualify for the Long Beach Worlds.


What are your thoughts on the whole beach cat multihull scene?

Spithill: I was first introduced to cats at a young age as my father had a Hobie 14 Turbo that James and I would take out. My first memory is of James tipping it over and with the 2 of us kids unable to pull it back up we just happily sat on the hull waiting for dad to realise we hadn’t come back in and come out and pull it up for us. Needless to say it took a few weeks for me to go back out with James at the helm! The next involvement I had with multihulls was meeting my future husband and being convinced to go to Mexico for the Hobie 16 Worlds in 2004 and sail in the Womens Division with his friends wife, whilst the boys worked and competed in the Open Event. Needless to say I was hooked, and have been multihull sailing ever since. Incidentally, Nicky was at those Worlds too

Thanks, Katie, for your time and insight. Good luck with your Olympic campaign!

Spithill: Thank you.

Barz Optics - FloatersZhik Yachting 660x82Southern Spars - 100

Related Articles

A Q&A with Charles Pessler, the regatta director of the legendary STIR
I corresponded with Charles Pessler, STIR’s regatta director, to learn about the event’s recent changes and evolutions. I recently corresponded via email with Charles “Chuck” Pessler, who is serving as the regatta director of the legendary STIR, to learn more about the changes and evolutions that have taken place at the event since my 2010 trip to racing paradise.
Posted on 22 Mar
New Pacific 52 class makes its debut in San Francisco
The first of two new-build Pacific 52's from Auckland's Cookson Boats is now sailing in San Francisco. The first of two new-build Pacific 52's from Auckland's Cookson Boats is now sailing in San Francisco. Invisible Hand for San Francisco's Frank Slootman replaces his earlier RP63 of the same name. She will soon be joined by a second Cookson build, Bad Pack (Tom Holthus) from the same moulds. A third, RIO 52 is for RIO 100 supermaxi owner Manouch Moshayedi.
Posted on 18 Mar
A Q&A with Chris Woolsey, regatta chair of the Miami to Havana Race
I talked with Chris Woolsey, regatta chair of the Miami to Havana Race, to learn more about this exciting race to Cuba. The 2017 Miami to Havana Race is set to begin on March 15 and promises high adventure-both sailing-related and cultural-for the sailors lucky enough to be participating in this historical-and for now legal-race. I talked with Chris Woolsey, regatta chair of the Miami to Havana Race and SORC race chairman, to learn more about this exciting race to Cuba.
Posted on 13 Mar
Gladwell's Line - Of Carnage, Characters and Colour
About this time of an America's Cup season, the sap begins rising as new boats are launched About this time of an America's Cup season, the sap begins rising as new boats are launched, and Cup fans get their first sight of the various team designers' response to the latest America's Cup Class rule. In the monohull days, of course, we initially only got a partial glimpse thanks to the shrouding practices adopted by all teams to hide the nether regions of their America's Cupper
Posted on 13 Mar
Caleb Paine on winning a US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Award
I talked with Caleb Paine about his recent US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Award and about his Olympic plans. On August 16, Caleb Paine broke the longest-running medal ceremony dry spell for American-flagged Olympic sailors since the 1930s when he captured a bronze medal in the Finn class at the Rio 2016 Olympics. I recently caught up with Paine on the phone to talk about his proud US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Award and about his future sailing plans.
Posted on 10 Mar
A Q&A with Lloyd Thornburg about his love of fast boats and racing
I recently caught up with Thornburg to learn more about his program, and to gain insight into racing MOD70s offshore. Not too many world-class sailors hail from the high deserts of Santa Fe, New Mexico, but Lloyd Thornburg isn’t your average sailor. The 37-year old investor flies the New York Yacht Club’s burgee from his fleet of raceboats that have included a Gunboat 66, a MOD70, and a Farr 280. I recently caught up with Thornburg to learn more about his program, and to gain insight into racing MOD70s offshore.
Posted on 8 Mar
So what’s it really like?
For ages now, these editorials have talked about multihull this, record that, outrageous boat speed and 24-hour runs For ages now, well it seems like that anyway, these editorials have talked about multihull this, record that, outrageous boat speed and incredible 24-hour runs. In their own very unique way they totally represent the technical avant-garde, and thank God for that. Where would we be without their impressive shapes, wonderful rigs, and now of course, foiling magic.
Posted on 6 Mar
JJ Giltinan 18ft - Kiwi Champion the subject of two protests in Sydney
Overall series leader Yamaha will have her position put on the line in a series of protest hearings on Friday Overall series leader Yamaha will have her position put on the line in a series of protest hearings Friday morning in Sydney. She faces two claims - both from Appliancesonline (David Witt). The first is an attempt to re-open the Hearing held on Wednesday morning after Yamaha was suffered damage in Race 3 as a result of a collision with a give way yacht, and Yamaha received redress of average
Posted on 3 Mar
A Q&A with US Sailing’s Malcolm Page about the Sailing World Cup Miami
I spoke with Malcolm Page, US Sailing’s Olympic chief, about the team’s performance at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Miami I talked with Malcolm Page (AUS), a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the Men’s 470 class and the chief of Olympic sailing at US Sailing, to get his pulse on the team’s performance at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Miami and discuss some recent coaching changes within the Olympic-sailing program.
Posted on 20 Feb
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ give first look at the pedaling AC50
Emirates Team New Zealand formally christened their new AC50 America's Cup Challenger on a rainy Auckland afternoon. Emirates Team New Zealand formally christened their new AC50 America's Cup Challenger on a rainy Auckland afternoon. The team has been sailing for the previous two days making news headlines after it was revealed in Sail-World.com that the AC50 would become only the second yacht in America's Cup history to use pedal power.
Posted on 16 Feb