Jimmy Spithill

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Jimmy Spithill
James Spithill 3.JPG
Spithill in 2010
Personal information
Birth name James Spithill
Born (1979-06-28) 28 June 1979 (age 37)
Sydney, Australia
Sailing career

Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (1998-2000)

Seattle Yacht Club (2001-2003)

Yacht Club Italiano (2004-2007)

Golden Gate Yacht Club (2008-present)

James Spithill (born 28 June 1979) is an Australian yachtsman. He was born in Sydney.

In 2010, as skipper and helmsman for BMW Oracle Racing, Spithill became the youngest ever winner of the America's Cup. He defended the cup twice, both times against against Emirates Team New Zealand, first successfully in 2013, when Oracle Team USA came back from a −2 penalty score at the start to win 9–8 on the final race; and unsuccessfully in the 2017 America's Cup held in Bermuda.

Sailing career[edit]

After some junior match race titles, in 1998 he arrived third in the Sydney-Hobart and first in the Kenwood Cup. He confirmed his ability by winning numerous races in the following years, including twice the Nations Cup (2003 and 2004), and obtaining a second place in the 2003 Match Race World Championship - and first place in 2005.[1]

America's Cup[edit]

He debuted in the America's Cup in 2000 with Young Australia, showing his precocious talent despite leading an antiquated boat. At the age of 20, he was the youngest helmsman in the America's Cup.

In 2003 he led Oneworld in the America's Cup, reaching the semifinal of the Louis Vuitton Cup, where he was beaten by Oracle BMW Racing.

For the 2007 America's Cup, Spithill was chosen by Francesco De Angelis, whom he had beaten in the 2003 Louis Vuitton quarter-finals, as his heir as helmsman of Luna Rossa Challenge. Spithill was a mainstay of the team, which he led to the final of the Louis Vuitton Cup 2007 after beating one of the favourites, Oracle BMW Racing, 5–1 in the semifinals. He earned the nickname of "James Pitbull" among Italian fans because of his aggressive tactics during the pre-start phase of the races. He is the protagonist of what is arguably remembered as the greatest pre-start in the history of the America's Cup, forcing two penalties to BMW Oracle skipper Chris Dickson in race 5 of the Louis Vuitton Cup 2007, causing Dickson's resignation a few days later. Spithill went on to lose 5–0 to Emirates Team New Zealand in the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup final.

In 2010, as skipper and helmsman for BMW Oracle Racing, Spithill became the youngest ever winner of the America's Cup. Spithill was the helmsman and skipper for the challenging team BMW Oracle Racing 90 in the 2010 America's Cup. His yacht USA 17 beat the defending yacht Alinghi 5 by a considerable margin.[2][3] Most observers stated that USA 17's rigid wing sail had given it a decisive advantage.[4]

He successfully defended in 2013, when Oracle Team USA came back from a −2 penalty score at the start (awarded due to illegal boat modifications in the prior America's Cup World Series)[5][6] to win 9–8 against Emirates Team New Zealand on the final race.

In the 2017 America's Cup defence held in Bermuda, he also led Oracle Team USA, but lost eight races to one.[7]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

On 6 October 2012, while at the helm of the Oracle USA AC45 yacht, Spithill managed to pitch-pole it.[8] And again, at the helm of the Oracle USA AC72 yacht during a practice run on 16 October 2012, Spithill pitch-poled it again.[9] The subsequent capsizing caused $2 million worth of damage to the $10 million vessel.[10]


Spithill is renowned for his wit, and regularly produces amusing responses to cliche questions from sports journalists.

"I think the question is, imagine if these guys lost from here, what an upset that would be. They’ve almost got it in the bag, so, that’s my motivation."

"I think we’ve got it in us. We’ve come back from a very deep hole. We want this."

"We’re not going to leave anything in the tank. I mean the boys, every single day, just find another level to go to, and today I’m going to ask for everything, and of course I’ll deliver and I’ll find something else."

"One day you are a rooster, and the next day you are a feather duster."


  1. ^ Dikkenberg, Jo (18 September 2005). "Spithill crowned World Match Racing Champion". Australia Sailing. Retrieved 26 June 2017. 
  2. ^ "First blood for USA". Yachts and Yachting. 12 February 2010. Retrieved 26 June 2017. 
  3. ^ "USA wins 33rd America's Cup Match". Sailing Breezes. Retrieved 26 June 2017. 
  4. ^ "Monster Multihulls". Sailing World. Retrieved 26 June 2017. 
  5. ^ "Oracle Team USA fined and penalised for AC World Series cheating". The Daily Sail. 3 September 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  6. ^ "America's Cup champion Oracle docked 2 points". Yahoo!. 3 September 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  7. ^ Cary, Tom (26 June 2017). "New Zealand bury the demons of San Francisco in crushing America's Cup victory over the USA". The Telegraph. Retrieved 26 June 2017. 
  8. ^ "ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill Capsize #acboathouse". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  9. ^ "oracle 17 capsize". YouTube. 6 September 2012. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  10. ^ Andrew Dalton (17 October 2012). "Yacht-enfreude: Oracle Capsizes Their Fanciest Sailboat Yet". SFist. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 

External links[edit]