Jimmy Spithill: “I’d love to do some small boat sailing”

Interview with Oracle Team USA skipper as he confirms he is not giving up

Jimmy Spithill has become synonymous with the America’s Cup. In 2010, he was the youngest skipper in history to raise aloft the Auld Mug and successfully defended it in one of the great sporting comebacks three years on.

Having tasted the rarity of defeat back in June following a 7-1 defeat to old foes Emirates Team New Zealand, Spithill is taking something of a break from the America’s Cup and stripping his sailing ambitions down to the most basic terms.

I’d love to do some small boat sailing,” the Aussie skipper said of his shorter-term ambitions. “I’ve just competed in a memorial match race event at my home club, Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club-where the majority of the competitors were from the Youth Program. I was so impressed with the level of racing and enthusiasm”.

Gilles Martin-Raget / ACEA / Red Bull Content Pool

It’s kind of funny as that’s where it started so it’s cool to get back to my roots and back to the skill set of sailing boats like that again. What I’m looking forward to is doing sailing on my own. With the America’s Cup programme, it’s a team of 100 people, to sail it requires cranes, powerboats and doctors. It’s a full operation”.

It’s nice to step into foiling on a kiteboard or an A Class or Moth, going out on your own and going back to that simple way. It’s just as enjoyable as going out with a huge team as well.

Despite a bid to go it solo for a time after the high-pressure environment of missing out on the biggest prize in sport, Spithill will have a team around him before too long.

He expects to take to the start line for Australia’s most famous race, the Sydney to Hobart, at the end of the year and the course where he first made a name for himself in finishing third as a budding teen sailor.

Martin Steinthaler / Red Bull Content Pool

In 2014, he was runner-up on board Comanche but returned in 2015 to seal victory, a vessel he plans to be on board once more shortly after Christmas Day.

One thing right now while waiting for the rules [of the next America’s Cup] is that it’s a great opportunity to get out there and go sailing again. The end of AC campaign regardless of whether you win or lose there’s almost a period of somewhat depression,” he said.

You go from a routine every day: go to training, go on the water, all meals planned, every minute of the day is taken up and you’re trying to find even more time. You are pushed to the limit and it is addicting. You start that operation on the edge, the campaign stops, you wake up and don’t know what to do with yourself. ‘What do you do now? It takes some time before you are able to wind down and go back to somewhat normal family life. You really miss the brotherhood of training with good mates.

With that in mind, Spithill is not about to sail off into any form of retirement, and scoffed at any critics suggesting his time at the pinnacle of sailing was over.

I love it when people say that I can’t do things or maybe I’m too old or my time has come,” he said.

I’ve been told that my whole life that I can’t do things but, at the end of the day, in some kind of ironic way I should be thanking them for motivating me.

Jimmy Spithill’s “Chasing the Cup: My America’s Cup Journey” is available now at retailers and online in hardcover and Kindle editions HERE.

Thanks to Red Bull Content Pool.

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