Two-time America’s Cup winner Jimmy Spithill is fighting fit at 40 and ready for another assault on the iconic Auld Mug trophy. The Australian is relishing the opportunity to once again go head-to-head against his New Zealand rivals with Luna Rossa, his new team for the 2021 edition of the Cup. As the design and competition race heats up, Spithill spoke about his new challenge, turning 40 and the future of the America’s Cup.
Is the passion and motivation still burning as high as it was when you started out?
I’d say it’s got stronger, once you achieve goals, the adrenalin and satisfaction you feel is very addictive and you want to push further.
You’ve recently recovered from surgery after tearing a tendon in your elbow. How did it happen and is it fixed?
I enjoy doing other sports outside of sailing, and I think the combination of that and the physical limits that are now on the sailors mean more injuries. I was extremely lucky to become good mates with Dr. Robert Bray Jr., who founded DISC Sports & Spine Centre. They have fixed my teammates and I many times.
You are still at the top of a physically demanding sport, how have you done it?
It’s taken me 40 years to figure it out. In the past I could get away with not recovering or eating right and this led to injuries. Recently, I went through intensive testing to understand my diet. I found out I was actually intolerant to a lot of foods, which was leading to inflammation in the gut and inflammation in my body, and then tearing tendons etc.
You became so established with Team Oracle USA, is it difficult to start again all over somewhere else?
At first yes, because you build a certain culture and way of doing things, so it’s taken some time before getting used to how things operate at Luna Rossa and understanding how the different people and personalities work. But it’s a great learning opportunity and another shot at the Cup.
How daunting a prospect are the new America’s Cup boats?
Regardless of your role in the team, the boats are daunting. They are really pushing the boundaries and it should be pretty cool to see them foiling at big speeds.
At the moment in America’s Cup terms is it more an arms race than a sailing one?
Like F1, the America’s Cup has always been about pushing technology, engineering and the athletes. This one is no different.
You’ve had no shortage of rivalry with the Kiwis over the years. How confident are you Luna Rossa can be the No.1 challenger?
I’ve had some awesome battles on the water over the year with the Kiwis, and I’m looking forward to a few more. At the moment ,I don’t think anyone can rank the teams until they line up for the first time in Cagliari in April for the first World Series event.
Does it feel like you’ll have a target on your back in Auckland?
I think Kiwis respect someone who doesn’t give up, who fights for everything on the field of play, but ashore is honest and candid when asked a question. I’ve always had a lot of fun in New Zealand, and can’t wait to get back there.