Jimmy Spithill: Getting away, Getting recharged

Published on August 17th, 2014

While his boss Russell Coutts is busy planning the next America’s Cup, defense skipper Jimmy Spithill has been getting recharged for the challenge. How? How about getting immersed in another sport, and competing in the 18th Annual Paddleboard World Championships. Named the Molokai2Oahu race, the 32 mile course spans the Molokai Channel. Scuttlebutt spoke with Jimmy to find out why…

A lot of people and media asked me the same question: Why put yourself through the pain and do the race? My answer: Why not! The America’s Cup is my life, think about it every day, so much that it’s an obsession, but sometimes you need to get away.

I needed a period after winning the America’s Cup to recharge before I was ready to press myself again. It was so intense, so there was time needed to reflect, and gather the key lessons to learn from.

I remember when we won the 33rd America’s Cup in 2010; I launched right back into sailing, and realized later that I should have taken more of a break.

Both Russell (Coutts, team CEO) and Larry (Ellison, team owner) counseled me in how the break is refreshing, especially after the campaign we had during the 34th America’s Cup in 2013. These programs are so time intensive.

But I like being active, getting outside, and particularly love the water. I enjoy all water activities, and the paddleboarding offers this within a great atmosphere.

Getting involved in other sports, it has to be about learning, but it’s also good to get out of your comfort zone. You have to be honest with yourself, because you can’t think you have a shot at the podium. You can’t shortcut all those hours, but it’s such a great learning experience. You learn about yourself, you learn from the other competitors.

I’ve always enjoyed variety, and really enjoy doing sports, particularly when you get to hang out with top athletes in other disciplines. On the athletes I look up to, they tend to be successful in a multitude of things. When I am amidst these people, I always find I learn something.

It sounds strange, when you think about paddling for five hours, what could you possibly learn? But you do. Sometimes you need to get away, and get outside of your box to get your mind stimulated again and produce ideas.

For all the training, hard work, tough times you go through during the Molokai2Oahu, the adrenaline when you complete it, and hanging around all the competitors after the race having a beer and sharing a few laughs, it’s addictive and reminds me of why I do sport.

Doing the Molokai2Oahu is kind of like doing a marathon for a runner. The beauty is how that piece of water is always different, so their sport is similar to sailing in that one day is never the same as another. I really enjoy that aspect, how it is different every time.

Funny enough, when you’re grinding away over the 32 miles, and then speaking with all the competitors after, it stimulates ideas you apply to running the Team and also ideas for the boats and the future of the America’s Cup.

Click here for Jimmy’s full report on doing the Molokai2Oahu race.

More: This video of the race was published by Bluesmiths on July 18, 2015

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