'Bring it on': Jimmy Spithill's message to Team NZ

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 22 Feb 2021, 10:07AM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

'Bring it on': Jimmy Spithill's message to Team NZ

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 22 Feb 2021, 10:07AM

After Luna Rossa's victory over American Magic in the Prada Cup semifinals, co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill immediately turned his attention to the next task.

"Now Ineos, boys," he told the crew on board after eliminating the American challenge to book a date against the British.

Now, Spithill has turned his attention to Team New Zealand.

Yesterday, Luna Rossa closed out the Prada Cup final series, winning both races to take a comprehensive 7-1 win in the best-of-13 series and earning the right to challenge Team New Zealand in the America's Cup match next month.

The result is yet another milestone ticked off in the Italians' campaign, and one they did in dominant fashion. Now, only one goal remains and Spithill knows the size of the task that awaits his team.

"It's going to be one hell of an undertaking," Spithill said.

"Now the work begins. This is what we live for, this is what we've been working so hard for year after year. Being based in Cagliari, it just been a relentless campaign this one with everything that's added on that we all didn't expect.

"I can't wait. Bring it on."

Luna Rossa will go into the America's Cup match with the advantage of much more racing under their belts than that of Team New Zealand, whose competitive experience in the AC75 has consisted of just six races in the World Series last December, as well as an incomplete race against Team UK in which neither boat could get on their foils and were forced into a displacement race.

In 2021, Luna Rossa have competed in 18 races across the Prada Cup round robins, semifinals and finals, and have showed improvements in their performance every step of the way. While Team New Zealand had the fastest boat late last year and suggestions are they remain that way, time will tell just how big a factor race time will be in the final stage of the competition.

For Spithill, progressing to the America's Cup match presents an opportunity he has been waiting for.

The 41-year-old, who led Luna Rossa's challenge in 2007, rejoined the Italian syndicate for the 2021 campaign with Oracle Team USA – who he won America's Cups with in 2010 and 2013 – disbanding following their loss in the America's Cup match to Team New Zealand in Bermuda in 2017.

While not trying to hide his desire to get one back on the Kiwis, Spithill took the opportunity to praise the Italian syndicate for what they had achieved particularly given the unforeseen issues that arose over the past few years.

"The America's Cup really is about a team pulling through. The one thing that I've notice here is the culture we've created. We've really had to work on it a lot but where we are now – how candid and honest the group is and how every single person in this team is not satisfied; they want more, they always feel like they've left something on the table and go home, come back the next day trying to improve – that's a culture you always try to create.

"I'm really, really excited to see that in the team and we're going to build on what we just went through against Ineos.

"These Kiwis are going to be tough, but that's the great thing about sport – if it was easy, it wouldn't be worth doing."

text by Christopher Reive, NZ Herald