Jimmy Spithill: On the road to Italy

Published on March 14th, 2018

After three America’s Cup campaigns with the Larry Ellison owned Oracle Team USA, Australian Jimmy Spithill will be on-board Italian Patrizio Bertelli’s campaign for the 36th America’s Cup in 2021. While Spithill has not revealed why the move, he offers some insight into the road forward in this interview with his sponsor Red Bull.

Spithill first debuted in sailing’s pinnacle event at the age of 20 before enjoying back-to-back America’s Cup wins with Oracle Team USA in 2010 and then 2013 in what was one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history. Now 38 years old, Spithill wants to win back the Auld Mug he lost to Emirates Team New Zealand in 2017.

How does it feel to reunite with Luna Rossa Challenge after you helmed them to the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals at the America’s Cup in 2007?
It’s great to be back with Luna Rossa Challenge – I have a lot of great memories from the four years we spent in Valencia during AC 32, and this time I have been impressed with the tools, technology and people they have in place. It’s a great mix of experience, new energy and enthusiasm in an open environment – the makings of a great team.

You have a vast amount of experience and, presumably, a lot of learnings that you bring to the table?
Of course as a competitor you’re always learning, and since the last race of AC 35, I’ve been thinking every day about the America’s Cup. Naturally, you go over the previous campaign piece by piece, focusing on all the key moments and decisions during the four years. Lately I’ve been able to understand how a lot of the other teams operated, and that in itself is very educational.

Any conclusions?
Ultimately, two things stood out for me: trusting my instincts is key, and the hunger has only gotten stronger.

And speaking of your past experiences, your collaboration with Oracle Team USA resulted in some iconic sailing moments. When you look back at it, what comes to mind?
What an amazing ride, with some amazing people. Without Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts, there is no way I could have gotten to this point in my career. I’m fortunate to have been able to work alongside some of the most successful people in sport and business, and lucky to be able to call them good mates. I look forward to catching up with them in the future.

It’s been announced that the boat for America’s Cup 36 is an AC75 monohull. First thoughts?
The boat is going to be a beast. It reminds me of America’s Cup 34 and the AC72 foiling catamarans. Nothing like this had been done before, and this boat is on the cutting edge of technology. There are a lot of unknowns with the AC75, which will push people to the limit and really challenge all the teams involved. However, this challenge and difficulty is really appealing, and I’m really excited to be back in the game.

And what are your thoughts about moving to Italy?
Last time with Luna Rossa challenge it was the Valencia campaign and we moved straight to Spain – this time I’m looking forward to living in Italy. Personally, I’ve had a lot of success racing and competing in Italy, and lifestyle and especially the food are awesome! I love the Italian culture, the landscape and the people. I have to admit, though, that I will need to work on my Italian.

Speaking of the culture, time for some quick-fire questions . . .
• Your favourite Italian dish? Margherita bufala.
• Pasta or pizza? Both.
• Your favourite gelato flavour? Stracciatella.
• Can you swear in Italian? Exceptionally well!
• Your favourite Italian phrase from what you can speak of the language so far? Va bene.
• Your favourite Italian football team? Juventus.
• Public transport or Ferrari? Ducati.

Key dates:
✔ September 28, 2017: 36th America’s Cup Protocol released
✔ November 30, 2017: AC75 Class concepts released to key stakeholders
✔ January 1, 2018: Entries for Challengers open
March 31, 2018: AC75 Class Rule published
June 30, 2018: Entries for Challengers close
August 31, 2018: Location of the America’s Cup Match and The PRADA Cup confirmed
August 31, 2018: Specific race course area confirmed
December 31, 2018: Late entries deadline
March 31, 2019: Boat 1 can be launched
2nd half of 2019: 2 x America’s Cup World Series Preliminary Events
February 1, 2020: Boat 2 can be launched
During 2020: 3 x America’s Cup World Series Preliminary Events
December 10-20, 2020: America’s Cup Christmas Race
January and February 2021: The PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series
March 2021: The America’s Cup Match

Protocol of the 36th America’s Cup
Key Points of the Protocol
Deed of Gift

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