Spithill to take helm of U.S. team in SailGP circuit
By Alexander Smith
LONDON (Reuters) – America’s Cup veteran Jimmy Spithill will lead the United States SailGP Team when the high-speed “foiling” catamaran championship resumes in April after a pandemic pause.
Spithill skippered Oracle Team USA for more than a decade, during which time he twice won the coveted America’s Cup, before losing out to Emirates Team New Zealand in Bermuda in 2017.
“Having raced under the American flag for a significant part of my professional career, this opportunity is … all about creating a pathway that allows us to identify, develop and train the best U.S. talent,” the Australian-born sailor, who lives in San Diego, California, said on Tuesday.
Spithill is currently part of the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team which is seeking to become the challenger for the 36th America’s Cup which will be sailed in revolutionary foiling monohulls in Auckland, New Zealand in 2021.
SailGP’s $1 million winner-takes-all global circuit, which is entering its second season, is due to begin in Bermuda in April once the America’s Cup wraps up in March.
“We’ll have eight incredibly competitive teams, each racing in identical, high-speed foiling catamarans in nine different countries around the world,” SailGP CEO Russell Coutts said.
In joining the ranks of SailGP, Spithill will be pitting his wits against rivals including New Zealanders Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, Britain’s Ben Ainslie and Australians Tom Slingsby and Nathan Outteridge, the latter representing Japan.
“It’s shaping up to be some of the most thrilling racing the sport has ever seen,” Coutts added in a statement from SailGP.
Spithill’s appointment means that Rome Kirby, who previously led the U.S. SailGP team, will shift to the flight controller position on board the F50 foiling catamaran, which can hit speeds of more than 50 knots (93 kms per hour).
The pair, who previously sailed together with Oracle Team USA, will be part of a SailGP circuit with events scheduled in Italy, Britain and Denmark before a 2022 San Francisco finale.
(Reporting by Alexander Smith; Editing by Christian Radnedge)
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