Emirates Team New Zealand must be quivering in their boots, or whatever the proper idiom is for referring to nervous sailors, at the new that Jimmy Spithill has left USA Team Oracle to drive the boat for the Italian syndicate, Luna Rossa.
Spithill, you may recall, was the helmsman for the 2017 America’s Cup series, where he won only one courtesy race and basically bolloxed all the others as the Kiwis took the Auld Cup back to their island and will now be in charge for the next series in 2021.
Whether he left, or Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison axed him is subject to question, but it can safely be said that American billionaires have the fastest thumbs in the world when it comes to dispatching subordinates, and Ellison’s might be second only to the Tweeter in Chief, Donald Trump.
Spithill and the rest of Luna Rossa have three years to come up with a boat design that is going to go back to a monohull design, rather than the catamaran dual-hull style that has won so regularly in the recent past, although said monohull will be a far cry from anything seen before, due to its ability to foil, just as the cats were able to do.
Spithill has worked for the Italians before. He was at the helm in the 2007 Challenger Cup series in Valencia. He will certainly be gladden to know that the next America’s Cup will not be held in his personal Bermuda Triangle.
In an interview held since it was confirmed that he was switching to the Italian side, he said, “Since the last race of AC35, I’ve been thinking every day about the America’s Cup. Naturally, you go over the previous campaign piece by piece, focusing on all the key moments and decisions during the four years. Lately I’ve been able to understand how a lot of the other teams operated, and that in itself is very educational.Ultimately, two things stood out for me: trusting my instincts is key, and the hunger has only gotten stronger.”
Spithill will have to trust that those instincts do not abandon him in Auckland as they did in Bermuda.