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Jimmy Spithill will drive for Australia SailGP Team in Dubai

by Ciara Wylie 30 Nov 2023 11:39 PST 30 November 2023
Jimmy Spithill, CEO & driver of USA SailGP Team, speaks to the media alongside Tom Slingsby, CEO and driver of Australia SailGP Team, in a press conference ahead of the Spain Sail Grand Prix in Cadiz, Andalusia, Spain © Bob Martin for SailGP

Two-time America's Cup winner and former United States SailGP Team driver and CEO, Jimmy Spithill, will replace Tom Slingsby in the Australia SailGP Team at the Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas on December 9-10. Slingsby will miss the Dubai event to be with his wife, Helena, for the birth of their first child.

One of the most recognisable names in professional sailing, Sydney-born Spithill will compete for Australia for the first time since 2001, bringing to the Australian team a champion pedigree harnessed over two decades of experience racing at the highest level.

Speaking about his friend and former crewmate, Australia SailGP Team driver and CEO, Tom Slingsby said: "Jimmy is a legend of our sport. He's a natural leader who brings the perfect blend of race smarts, aggression and composure out on the water.

"Despite a shaky start in Dubai in Season 3, we were able to achieve some pretty remarkable things there with our comeback victory, and I'm really keen to see what Jimmy can deliver using his previous experience racing in SailGP with the Aussies next weekend."

The announcement coincides with the news of the sale of the United States SailGP Team and future prospects for Jimmy Spithill, as revealed in the latest episode of the SailGP docuseries, Racing On the Edge. The United States Team has been purchased by information and technology investor and founding Uber engineer Ryan McKillen, Margaret McKillen, and two-time world champion sailor Mike Buckley. They are joined by a diverse group of investors representing the sport, technology, entertainment and media industries.

Spithill said: "Not only is this sale great for the United States team and US sailing, it's given me the controlling interest in entering an Italian team on the start line for SailGP Season 5.

"To take the US Team from last place to become a winning team on and off the water, and go through the process of completing the sale to an amazing group of investors led by Ryan Mckillen, is very satisfying and I look forward to applying what I learnt to Italy."

"I can tell you, from first-hand experience, competing in Italy, and competing for Italy, they have the most passionate fans, amazing iconic venues, and some of the best athletes in the world coming through the ranks. It's a very exciting time", Spithill added.

On officially steering the Flying Roo, Spithill said: "It's an honour to step in for a good mate and drive for Australia. This Team has been the absolute benchmark since SailGP started, I have personally raced and worked with a lot of the Team, and I'm really looking forward to learning and racing with the most consistent squad in SailGP.

"When Tom approached me I was stoked but I did jokingly tell him my one condition, which is that he needs to name his first child Jimmy. My goal is no different to past races with the USA SailGP team: go out, race hard, stay consistent, and hopefully be in a position on Sunday to make the final."

Spithill made history by becoming the youngest skipper, at age 30, to win the America's Cup in 2010, and again in 2013, where he led what is widely acclaimed as one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history. In 2014, Spithill received the prestigious Rolex World Sailor of the Year award, cementing his place as one of the most decorated sailors in the world.

The Australia SailGP Team is currently sitting top on the leaderboard of the Season 4 SailGP Championship. The team will return to home waters for the KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix I Sydney in February 2024. Tickets are on sale now for the not-to-be-missed event of the Australian summer at SailGP.com/Sydney

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