America’s Cup atmosphere was ‘similar to a Wembley final’, says skipper

Jimmy Spithill, the captain of Team Oracle USA Picture: Malcolm Wells (160724-3609)
Jimmy Spithill, the captain of Team Oracle USA Picture: Malcolm Wells (160724-3609)
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  • Team ORACLE USA skipper praises fans after America’s Cup sailed into Portsmouth
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Team ORACLE USA’s skipper lavished praise on the Portsmouth crowds last night, comparing the America’s Cup atmosphere as ‘similar to a Wembley’ final.

Jimmy Spithill, whose team secured two wins over the course the weekend, said that this year’s series, was ‘definitely better’ than last year.

Speaking following his team’s strong performance, Mr Spithill said: ‘It was definitely a better weekend than last year.

‘The fans generated a perfect atmosphere.

‘The noise was similar to walking out to an FA Cup final at Wembley.

‘It had a real a stadium feeling to it. You could hear all the chants from the water.’

He added: ‘The British fans are so fantastic. One thing that never surprises me about them is that they will come out for anything, no matter what the conditions are. They are just brilliant.’

He also praised the conditions down on the Southsea seafront, saying. ‘The weather was much better than last year, which helped.

Dean Barker, skipper of SoftBank Team Japan said: ‘The good conditions and crowds over the weekend made for a great occasion.

Mr Barker, whose side had a productive weekend, finishing third overall after securing four third-place finishes, backed the ‘amazing’ Portsmouth crowds.

He added: ‘Of course, the crowds were mostly in support of Land Rover BAR, but we could hear cheers for us and it really gave us a momentum.

‘The crowd played such a role in the races. They did fantastic this weekend.’

Franck Cammas, skipper for Groupama Team France, also celebrated the city’s crowds despite a mixed weekend for his team.

Groupama had a stunning Saturday with one victory and one second place, but the team fell apart on the Sunday, with two sixth-place finishes.

Mr Cammas said: ‘There was a lot of support down here which gives the weekend a really good feeling.

‘Portsmouth is a great place to race as the crowds can really see everything.’

Glen Ashby, skipper for Emirates Team New Zealand added: ‘For us, as we were mostly a new team, it was a fantastic learning experience for us.

The team finished fourth overall with two third-place finishes.

He added: ‘We felt that the crowds really helped provide that extra push.’