Spithill Takes the Double

Published on October 10th, 2012

It was a perfect storm of events this week in San Francisco, highlighted by the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, Fleet Week, professional football, professional baseball playoffs, and a panoply of parades and festivals celebrating Columbus Day. Seeking to gain exposure from this overflow of humanity was the America’s Cup World Series, where 11 AC45 teams competed on San Francisco Bay in both match racing and fleet racing.

(October 6, 2012) – Oracle Team USA Spithill, led by skipper Jimmy Spithill, overcame a spectacular capsize earlier in the day during the fleet racing series to later win the Match Racing Championship.

Spithill’s team beat Emirates Team New Zealand (Dean Barker) by 18 seconds in a race that was decided on the start line. With less than 10 seconds to the start, Spithill dove to leeward of Barker and luffed his New Zealand opponent so hard that Barker wound up tacking to port to avoid a penalty. Spithill sped onto the racecourse as Barker was circling around to start and led by 31 seconds at the first reach mark.

“There was a lot of time to go to the start and he was way too early. It was a matter of biding our time,” said Spithill. “Our coach, Philippe Presti, has done a lot of work with Ben (Ainslie), Russ (Coutts) and I, and we’ve really been out-starting the other teams in the match racing. Full credit to Philippe, he’s the one who got us to this level.”

Spithill advanced to the championship after beating Artemis Racing – White (Terry Hutchinson) in the semifinals, while Emirates Team New Zealand beat Artemis Racing – Red (Nathan Outteridge). — Full report.

(October 7, 2012) – Skipper Jimmy Spithill and his Oracle Team USA Spithill team rebounded from last place at the first turning mark of the “Super Sunday” fleet race finale to win the America’s Cup World Series San Francisco Championship. Spithill and crew Dirk de Ridder, John Kostecki, Jono MacBeth and Joe Newton steadily fought their way back through the fleet, passing teammates Oracle Team USA Coutts (Russell Coutts) to take the 17 second win.

Entering the race, Spithill’s team trailed J.P. Morgan BAR (Ben Ainslie), Artemis Racing – White (Terry Hutchinson), and Emirates Team New Zealand (Dean Barker) in the overall fleet race standings. But with the heavily weighted scoring for the finale, Spithill landed in a tie with Ainslie, who finished fourth in the final race, but the American team took the title on a tiebreaker. — Full report.

COMMENT: The Fleet Week air show over the Bay, which includes the famous Blue Angels, annually attracts immense spectator numbers along the waterfront. With quoted attendance of 1,000 boats and 500,000 people, it was a strategic move by the America’s Cup organizers to heighten their exposure by getting in front of these crowds. But for someone eager to attend only the racing, were the crowds manageable or did it prove to be too much effort? I would love to hear from those of you that attended ACWS on Saturday or Sunday. — Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt

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