Spithill Returns to Oracle for Chance to Win Three in a Row as a Skipper

SAN DIEGO (LOG NEWS SERVICE) — The chance to win a third straight America’s Cup with Oracle Team USA was a bigger allure to skipper Jimmy Spithill than taking a big-money offer from a foreign challenger.

Spithill announced Feb. 3 that he’ll be back with Oracle Team USA for the 35th America’s Cup, which is expected to be held in August 2017.

The 34-year-old Australian said his relationships with software billionaire Larry Ellison, who owns Oracle Team USA, and syndicate CEO Russell Coutts, a five-time cup winner, are important.              ]

“It’s obviously great to be back,” Spithill told The Associated Press by phone from San Francisco. “There were some really great offers out there but I’ve been a part of this since Day 1, when we had our first win in 2010. Larry was a big part of it for me. He’s always sort of backed me up even in some tough times, and Russell. I wouldn’t be here without them. I want the opportunity, too, to potentially win three in a row as a skipper. This is really such a great team. I want to keep it going with them and I want to go for the three-peat.”

In 2010, Spithill, then 30, became the youngest skipper to win the America’s Cup when Oracle beat Alinghi of Switzerland in a two-race sweep off Valencia, Spain.

Spithill helped lead one of the greatest comebacks in sports when Oracle Team USA won eight straight races against Emirates Team New Zealand in the 34th America’s Cup on San Francisco Bay in September. The Kiwis reached match point at 8-1 on Sept. 18 before Oracle began its comeback.

Spithill said one of the syndicates that made a run at him was Italy’s Luna Rossa, which he skippered in the 2007 America’s Cup challenger series.

But Spithill said he wouldn’t be where he is today without Ellison and Coutts, a New Zealander who sailed unbeaten through three straight America’s Cup matches, for two different countries, before becoming Oracle Team USA’s CEO.

Spithill said Ellison, the CEO of Oracle Corp., “is a bit of a mentor but also a good mate. To get that relationship with someone like that, they’re probably few and far between in a lifetime. It’s the same with Russell (Coutts). They’re obviously both tough guys and competitors, but are very fair. That’s the kind of environment I enjoy working in. They give you kind of the burden of trust. They’re not micro-managers. It’s a kind of environment in which you get opportunities, and that allows you to grow. You become a better person and better athlete. I learned a lot from the last campaign and I’m excited about the next one.”

–Bernie Wilson, AP Sports Writer


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