Beaten skipper Jimmy Spithill has given a strong indication that Larry Ellison’s Oracle Team USA will stay in the America’s Cup and try to win back the Auld Mug.
The future of the powerful American syndicate has been one of the main intrigues of the competition since Emirates Team New Zealand wrestled the Cup away from them in Bermuda in June.
Team New Zealand’s decision to return to monohulls and go away from the multihulls that Ellison and Oracle championed in the last three editions, added to doubts about their involvement in the next Cup to be sailed in Auckland in 2021.
There have even been suggestions that Ellison may look to set up a rival competition, keeping the 50-foot foiling catamarans that impressed in Bermuda alive.
But Spithill, in a chat with one of his and Oracle’s sponsors, Red Bull, said there was a desire within the syndicate to avenge their loss.
“We will definitely be chasing this America’s Cup,” he told Redbull.com.
Spithill said Ellison would want to fully digest the latest protocol released by Team New Zealand.
“But we want to go and get that Cup back. When you’ve been involved with a great group of people, especially a successful team, it is addictive. It does become an obsession. Once you get the taste of it, you want to taste it again,” he said, admitting he was now in a different position.
“Being the defender, you have a target on your back. Every single one of those teams wants to take you down. And now we find ourselves in the position where we are one of the teams now – we are chasing the defender.”
Spithill said it had been a difficult time coming to terms with the loss in Bermuda.
“Losing the America’s Cup is one of the toughest things I have ever experienced. It is hard to put it into words. It is a real empty feeling. For me, one of the worst things is letting people down, and that is how I left this America’s Cup. Feeling, that ultimately, I let all my team-mates down. I have got to embrace that. You have got to feel the pain somewhat and use that to motivate you and to learn the lessons,” he told Redbull.com.
“At the end of every America’s Cup campaign, regardless of whether you win or lose, there is always a period of somewhat depression.
“You go from having a routine: you get up, go to training, go out on the water, all your meals are planned, you get used to operating right on the edge; then at the end of the campaign, it stops. You wake up and you don’t know what to do with yourself. You think, ‘well what do I do now?’ It takes some time to be able to wind down and go back to normal family life.”
But he was determined to take positives from the loss.
“After such a long campaign with so much on the line, when you’re on the losing end you have to make sure that you reflect on the experience. You want to learn from it and make sure you grow stronger from it so you can come back and have the chance to race again for it. I think what I have come back with is that [in our campaign] we were too conservative and I didn’t go with my instincts enough.”
Any new Oracle challenge for the America’s Cup would be hit by the tougher nationality rules imposed by Team New Zealand. Oracle’s crews in San Francisco 2013 and Bermuda 2017 were largely Australian-flavoured, including Spithill, tactician Tom Slingsby, and wing trimmer Kyle Langford.
Slingsby is already investigating the possibility of launching an Australian challenge for the Cup.
Syndicates can register their challenges for the 2021 America’s Cup from January 1 next year with a cut-off of June 30 to avoid a US$1m late entry penalty fee.
The New York Yacht Club have already confirmed their intentions to be in Auckland but there has been strong speculation in the United States of additional American involvement.
Britain’s Ben Ainslie Racing say they are keen to be involved in Auckland as are Team France.
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