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Spithill confident with America’s Cup to set sail tomorrow

YACHTING: Weather was the first winner at the 35th America’s Cup as an unfavourable forecast postponed opening day – and left Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill itching to get underway.

marine, transport,


AFP

Friday 26 May 2017, 10:19AM


The Oracle Racing AC45 catamaran skipped by James Spithill competes in the America’s Cup World Series in Cascais, Portugal in August 2011. Photo: Miguel Riopa/AFP
The Oracle Racing AC45 catamaran skipped by James Spithill competes in the America’s Cup World Series in Cascais, Portugal in August 2011. Photo: Miguel Riopa/AFP

With high winds predicted for today (May 26), competition is now set to begin tomorrow (May 27) on Bermuda’s Great Sound, where five would-be challengers will be battling for the right to take on Team USA for the cup billed as the world’s oldest international sporting trophy.

This time around, the defender will take part in the qualifying round-robin with a chance to earn a valuable point to take into next month’s head-to-head duel for the coveted prize.

“We are approaching the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers to win. There is a bonus point up for grabs and that’s clearly worth fighting for,” Spithill said yesterday (May 25) at a pre-regatta press conference. “We will approach every race trying to win.”

Australia’s Spithill became the youngest skipper to capture the America’s Cup in 2010 and three years later in San Francisco lead Team USA’s incredible comeback victory over Emirates Team New Zealand.

“The America’s Cup is clearly an obsession for me,” Spithill said. “All I want is to win. I’ve sacrificed so much in my life for that.”

Tomorrow’s opening day, pushed back for safety reasons after high winds were forecast for today, will showcase some changes from the 2013 event in San Francisco.

The America’s Cup catamarans, which will reach speeds of more than 80.47kmh as they rise on hydrofoils to “fly” above the surface of the water, are smaller than the 72-footers used in San Francisco.

Their smaller crews of six – down from 11 in 2013 – will need incredible endurance as well as skill.

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But with their towering fixed-wing sails, speed and agility, this year's craft promise another sensational spectacle.

Team USA is due to open the challenger round-robin against Groupama Team France. Also vying to advance are Britain’s Land Rover BAR, SoftBank Team Japan, Emirates Team New Zealand and Artemis Racing of Sweden.

On June 3, the last-ranked challengers will be eliminated and the remaining four challengers will move on to the semi-finals and final for the chance to take on Team USA.

The British outfit, led by Sir Ben Ainslie, go into qualifying with two bonus points from the America’s Cup World Series that began in 2015 – but they’ve been worryingly slow in practice racing in Bermuda this month.

“Of course we believe we can win,” said Ainslie, who played a key role in Team USA’s 2013 victory before joining the British challenge. “We respect the opposition and know how hard it is to win this event, but we can do it.”

He acknowledged, however, that Team USA must be favourites – a position Spithill is more than comfortable with.

“Our boat is great, it’s fantastic,” Spithill said. “I think it’s the best boat in the world.”

 

 

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