AC34: Nationalities and Personalities

Published on June 6th, 2013

By Christopher Caen, Huffington Post
I am sitting with Jimmy Spithill, and I am giddy. I ask, “Who do you race for? Larry Ellison, Oracle Team USA, or San Francisco?” I have managed to corral Spithill, the skipper for Oracle Team USA, at a bar on Union Street, and we have headed to the back of the room to talk about the upcoming races.

Oracle is the “American” boat in the America’s Cup. I put quotation marks around the “American” in that phrase because there are more Americans on the Swedish team than there are on the American team. Spithill is Australian. There are New Zealanders on the team. There are Italians on the team. When I go to have lunch at their base, we eat Mexican food. Then they slap the American flag up on top of their 13-story tall wing mast over the gigantic “Oracle” logo. It’s one of the things that make people tilt their heads and make squinty faces when you talk to them about the different syndicates in this year’s Cup. It’s a little hard to figure out who is playing for which team, let alone which country.

He thought about my question for a moment and then answered. “Well first of all you race for yourself. And then for my team mates, and Larry is my teammate. But we also have that responsibility to San Francisco and the United States. We could hear the cheering in the World Series [sailing races] and it’s hard to value that and what it means. And I am really proud to be representing America. My wife is American and my two sons are American, and Australians have this love affair with the Americans. It goes back to you bailing us out in the wars. You were there to look out for us, and growing up with my father and his mates they were in love with America because they helped us out. So for me it is an honor be part of this and I love it here.”

Aside from the fact that I have no idea what wars he’s talking about, I was on to the subject of why Americans should rally behind a bunch of gregarious mercenaries with accents who stare suspiciously at our toilets when the water goes the wrong way around when flushed. It’s positively un-American, right? – Read on

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