America’s Cup: It’s Time to go Racing

Published on September 5th, 2013

San Francisco, CA (September 5, 2013) – On May 6, 2010, the Defender and the then Challenger of Record, Club Nautico di Roma, held a joint press conference to report on plans for the 34th Cup. Since that announcement, the past three years have offered a predictably acrimonious path, highlighted recently with death, destruction, and scandal.

But the America’s Cup is ultimately a sailing contest, an opportunity to put all the work – design and sailor skill – to test. After two months of challenger trials, it is time for defender Oracle Team USA to face off against challenger Emirates Team New Zealand for the 34th America’s Cup. Racing begins Saturday, September 7th.

Attending today’s press conference was…
Jimmy Spithill (AUS), skipper, Oracle Team USA
John Kostecki (USA), tactician, Oracle Team USA
Dean Barker (NZL), skipper, Emirates Team New Zealand
Glenn Ashby (AUS), wing trimmer, Emirates Team New Zealand

Here are some of their notable remarks…

Regarding the jury decision
Spithill: I am shocked by the jury decision (docking team 2 points and suspending crew members), but I’ve moved on from it. There’s nothing I can do about it today to change it. We have one thing to focus on, and that’s the racing this weekend. And I can tell you, speaking for the entire team, the only thing we are thinking about is getting out there and racing these guys (Emirates Team New Zealand). But I have to look at where we are today. We only found out four days out from the start of the first race of the America’s Cup who our race team could be. We lost one of our key guys, and we are starting on Saturday two races behind. So I don’t think we are the favorite when you think about that. I think we are now the underdog.

Barker: It is a circumstance that they (Oracle Team USA) found themselves in through something that their team has done. The timing is what it is for those guys. But they are good enough and old enough to know how to deal with it, and they will be just fine when we come to race on Saturday.

What the racing will be like…
Kostecki: If the boats end up being slightly equal in speed, it will come down to the sailors. It will come down to the tactics and crew maneuvers that will make the difference. But most likely, as we have seen in past Cups, the boats are oriented a little bit in one direction wind-wise, and have their strengths and weaknesses, so that may play a factor depending on the differences between the two boats

Ashby: The development of both teams boats have effectively come to the pointy end of the spear. We have come from one direction, and they have come from the other direction. But I see that foil-wise, and aerodynamically speaking, the boats are very evenly matched. And I think the sailing teams are quite evenly matched as well. But neither team right now knows if they have an advantage, but there should be crossover at some point since this is a development class, and the boats are slightly different. I suspect the racing to be fierce, the straight-line speed to be similar, and that boat maneuvers and crew handling will present the opportunities to pass. Having high corner speed will be where passes can be made.

On the challenge that lies ahead…
Spithill I am expecting next week to be the most difficult working week of my life. But that’s what motivates me, and that’s what motivates the guys onboard. It is tough, it is hard. To win this trophy is one of the hardest things you do in your life, but it is so rewarding. When you coordinate such a big team together and get it to work, it’s hard to put words to it. But we don’t shy away from a challenge. There is a real hunger now, a real purpose given what has transpired this week. Something has clicked, and this team cannot wait to get out there on Saturday.

Barker: You can say what you want, on whether you think you are the favorite or the underdog. We still are going to start racing Saturday, and one team is going to be better than the other. We are obviously going to put everything into it that we possibly can. We are incredibly happy with the preparation, but if we aren’t fast enough then we aren’t fast enough. It’s not more complicated than that.

On being the defender…
Spithill: Any time you are the defender, there is a target on your back. The challengers always get together, and their goal is pretty simple. They want to come out and knock you off and take this trophy. The fact is that no matter what happens on the shore, and all the games that get played, to take that trophy you’ve got to win on the water. So that’s what we are looking forward to, to get on the water and racing for it. And we will be doing that in our second boat.

The importance of support…
Spithill: We have been most successful in the US based events. I think it is due to having the people behind us. It is hard to put a value on the hometown advantage, but it’s a big deal, and the guys on the boat can feel it. And if there’s ever a time that we need the people of San Francisco and the USA to get behind us, it’s now. We have faced adversity in the past, we have faced a lot of challenges as a team, and that gives us confidence but if we can get the home town people behind us at a tough moment like now it will be critical. We want to keep the Cup here. It’s important to get that in people’s heads. We want to get this trophy here. These guys (Kiwis) don’t. So we are counting on the San Franciscans to support us.

Barker: There is certainly a lot of Kiwi support here in San Francisco, and there is a huge amount at home, so that is all motivation for us. We have an amazing amount of support, but in the end this is essentially a selfish pursuit. You are doing it for yourself, for the team, and for all the beliefs and culture within the team. We came here to try and win the America’s Cup. That’s why we are here, and there will be no other result that will be good enough for this team.

Regarding the starts…
Ashby: The prestarts should be fantastic. We have the two most technically advanced pieces of yachting machinery coming at each other for the very first time at high speeds. If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is.

On being a local…
Kostecki: It is fantastic having the America’s Cup on the waters where I grew up sailing. When we won this trophy in 2010, it was a dream come true for me, and when the team chose San Francisco as a venue, I was like ‘wow’… what an incredible decision. And now it’s time to race, it’s actually happening. As we have seen in the Louis Vuitton Cup, it is an incredible venue with great a seabreeze, tricky course conditions with currents that are changing every day. You can view the course from all around the Bay area. Personally, I think it is one of the best venues in the world for this type of event, and I am really looking forward to getting out there and hopefully winning a sailboat race.

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