ORACLE TEAM USA Skipper Jimmy Spithill has been going non-stop since he led his team to an incredible comeback win in the America’s Cup just over two weeks ago.
His travails began early – very early – the morning after the victory with a dawn appearance on the ‘Today Show.’ Other television appearances with Jay Leno and Stephen Colbert have followed. In fact, he hasn’t stopped since crossing the finishing line on September 25.
“It’s been a whirlwind tour,” Spithill said from Annapolis on Friday where he is making yet another appearance, this time at the US Sailboat Show. Spithill says he’s been impressed and pleasantly surprised by the reaction he’s been getting.
“We all wanted to believe that people would get into this sort of racing with the great TV coverage and the boats and everything,” he said. “But the way this Cup ended, with the comeback and how close it was, it really did re-engage America back into the America’s Cup. It’s been amazing meeting so many people who were following it who aren’t sailors, who wouldn’t normally care about our sport. It’s clear to me that Larry and Russell’s (Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts) vision has paid off.
“People have been coming up to me in the street, even when I’m not wearing team gear, to say congratulations. In San Francisco Airport I was having a hard time just getting to the gate. It’s great because it means people are paying attention to the sport and they can’t wait to see it again, which is a fantastic place for sailing to be.”
Spithill says it’s not just America where excitement about the America’s Cup is on the rise. With Hamilton Island Yacht Club becoming challenger of record, Australia is also looking at the America’s Cup with renewed vigour.
“It’s about time Australia got involved again,” he said about his homeland. “There were so many Australians involved throughout the teams this time. And there’s a lot of history there, with Australia II becoming the first challenger to ever win the Cup in 1983.
“But it’s not just in Australia. Internationally, it’s been amazing to see the interest. The best part is that it’s great for the sport. It’s promoting sailing. It’s getting more attention. And people are seeing sailing can be up there with other mainstream sports which is going to benefit the kids, the next generation. That’s a great legacy.”