Saturday, February 6, 2010

Who's Who... James Spithill

by Peter Rusch
Already on his fourth America's Cup campaign at the ripe old age of 30, skipper and helmsman of the USA, James Spithill (AUS), was all but forced into boating as a kid - that's what happens when you live on a small island.

"The only way to get to school or to the mainland was by boat so I was forced into boating at a very young age, before I went to school. It was just a way of life," he explains.

In truth, it doesn't seem like there was any 'forcing' going on. Spithill and his siblings took to the sport with ease and his enthusiasm for sailing was only boosted when Australia became the first team to successfully beat the Americans, taking the Cup from the New York Yacht Club in 1983.

"The Beashels used to live across the way from us and Colin won the America's Cup with Australia II in 1983 (Colin Beashal was mainsail trimmer). I was only five when they did it, but my dad says that after it happened I said, 'I'm going to do that one day'.

"As time went on, I really had a fascination with the Cup and had the dream of hopefully being part of a successful team. That's what I've been trying for ever since I've been involved."

That first taste of the Cup came as the skipper of the Young Australia campaign at the Louis Vuitton Cup in Auckland in 1999. The team was using an old boat, and on very restrictive budget, but Spithill and his crew turned heads for their confident performances and aggression on the start line. When Young Australia was eliminated, he was asked to join AmericaOne to help tune up Paul Cayard on his pre-start moves. A new talent had arrived. Read more...