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Spithill could hand over wheel of desperate Oracle

2017-06-26 10:53
Jimmy Spithill (Getty)

Hamilton - Skipper Jimmy Spithill says Oracle Team USA will consider every option to keep its America's Cup defence alive, including replacing him at the helm. 

Team USA trail Emirates Team New Zealand 6-1 in the first-to-seven points series on Bermuda's Great Sound, with races nine and 10 coming up on Monday. 

After two defeats on Sunday, Spithill invoked the memory of 2013 like a mantra - recalling the team's remarkable fightback from an 8-1 deficit to triumph 9-8 over the Kiwis in San Francisco.

British sailing legend Ben Ainslie played a key role in the comeback after he replaced John Kostecki as tactician midway through the final series. 

This time around Spithill said he'd be willing to step aside if he and current tactician Tom Slingsby decide it's best. 

"I'll do whatever is good for the team," he said. "If we think the team's got a better chance with me on the wheel, clearly I'll go on the wheel. 

"If we think the team's got a better chance with me off the wheel, no problem." 

Spithill was out-sailed by hotshot young Kiwi helmsman Peter Burling on Sunday and as the pressure mounted on the defenders their mistakes multiplied. 

Asked if the complicated technology that modern Cup teams rely on had let Oracle down, Spithill refused to make excuses. 

"At the end of the day you have to make a judgment decision yourself," he said. 

"All teams rely on algorithms and systems ... but at the end of the day a human has to decide when to push a button or when to make a move. 

"So if you're asking for why the mistakes happened or someone to point the finger at then you should point it firmly at me." 

But Spithill was heartened by his crew's response to the mistake-strewn day, which included being beaten in both starts and a costly penalty for sailing beyond a boundary. 

"This is clearly a time where you see a team potentially split apart," Spithill said. "What we saw when the boys got ashore was they said, 'Look, this isn't over. They haven't handed over the trophy yet."

Read more on:    yachting


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