It was October 16, 2012, only a couple of months after Emirates Team New Zealand took to the air with the world’s first full-foiling AC72, making the Kiwis the odds-on favorite to win the 34th America’s Cup. Then just as things couldn’t look worse, Jimmy Spithill stuck the nose of Oracle’s first full-foiling AC72 into a wave, and the next thing the crew knew they were up and over, trashing their boat and wing in the process.
It’s a funny thing, though, about Aussie-born Spithill—who also happens to be an avid boxer—the harder he gets knocked around, the harder he hits back. Sure enough, slightly less than a year later, after being told he had no chance on multiple occasions, it was Spithill hoisting the Auld Mug, while a shell-shocked Emirates skipper Dean Barker could only look on in despair.
It might therefore have been with more than a little trepidation that the five challengers taking part in the 35th Cup read this past March of Oracle Team USA’s capsize while training aboard it full-foiling AC45 in Bermuda. If past is prologue, then Spithill and company are now only going to work that much harder.
“It was a great afternoon of sailing until we capsized,” the typically understated Spithill said afterward. “The boat didn’t tip over through a nose-dive, which is what normally happens, but we were just pressed over sideways. Hopefully we don’t see too many more of these, but this is where we are as a sport where you’re always pushing to be on the limit. We’ll learn from this and move forward.”
The rest of the campaigns can now consider themselves duly warned.
Photo courtesy of Oracle Team USA/Sam Greenfield