The upcoming ACWS Naples invokes fond memories for Jimmy Spithill. The ORACLE Racing skipper was helmsman of the Luna Rossa Challenge 2007, which advanced to the Louis Vuitton Cup final. Spithill says he’s looking forward to seeing the fans’ passion from the other side.
What are you expecting in Naples, from the crowds and the racing?
I’ve visited elsewhere in Italy and it’s one of my favorite countries. That’s probably because of my past being involved with Luna Rossa. I got to learn the country and people and fell in love with it all. I’m excited about visiting Naples. Wherever I’ve gone in Italy it’s been a great experience, you learn a different area and culture. In fact, it’ll be the first time our two crews will be in Naples. I think it’ll be huge. The Italian fans are some of the most passionate in the world. They’re die-hard fans and enjoy the competition. I think there’ll be big crowds and people will enjoy the competition because it really is a new game and more exciting than what people have seen in past and I think the Italian fans will enjoy this new game.
Do you think racing on the Sea of Naples is more difficult than other parts of Italy?
Any new venue has its challenges. But that’s another strong point about the AC45 catamaran. If we took the old monohulls to Naples, I guarantee you it would not be exciting. We can sail the AC45’s in a wide range of conditions, from 5 to 30 knots. There aren’t many boats that can sail in that wide a range and with great, exciting racing.
As a sailor and team, how do you approach new venues?
We’ll do some training, but at the end of the day it comes down to the final Sunday. The way this fleet is anyone is capable of winning. Really, it’s about trying to peak at the right time and getting it together on the final Sunday.
What would you say in an advertisement about the racing in Naples?
You’ll see the fastest boats with the best sailors in world and fantastic races. I know that the America’s Cup is big in Italy, but people are going to be surprised at the changes to the format of the event. The changes are all for the better. The boats are so much better, from an athletic point of view boats are much more physical to sail and the races are much shorter. We’re looking at 20-minute races so it’ll be a lot more entertaining for viewers, whether they’re watching live or on TV or on the web. I really think the people of Naples will enjoy this racing and the advertisement is come down and check it out.
What do you think of the new Luna Rossa team?
I actually think those guys are up there as the favorites. They’re in their home country, they’re experienced, and they’ve got two helmsmen who have been incredibly successful in this type of racing so I’d be surprised if they weren’t at the top. It’s fantastic to have Patrizio Bertelli back in the game. He’s a great guy, and the way he runs the team is done with a lot of style and class. It adds a lot to the event having a team like that involved. Competitively I think these guys are going to very good, especially given their partnership with Team New Zealand. If you look specifically at the Naples event, and it sounds like they’ll have two boats, they’ve got two very talented teams out there. Mark Campbell-James (one of the team’s helmsmen) has been very successful on the X40 circuit and Chris Draper (the other team helmsman) has been very successful in AC45 previously with Team Korea.
From ORACLE RACING.