Oracle Team USA skipper confident America’s Cup will grow in popularity

Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill Picture: Allan Hutchings
Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill Picture: Allan Hutchings
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Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill believes the incredible support shown for the America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth is only going to grow among fans.

Judging from the popularity of the event, which was held in the city for the first time, Spithill feels there is a real appetite to watch one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world.

And that interest has got to be down to Sir Ben Ainslie’s inspirational BAR team bidding to bring the Auld Mug back to home shores for the first time in the competition’s history.

Spithill, who at 19 became the youngest skipper in America’s Cup history, said: ‘I’ve got to say that I was blown away by just how supportive people were of the racing.

‘If you look at Saturday there were thousands of people and heaps of kids were on the shore.

‘I’ve got a lot of respect for Portsmouth and I can’t wait to come back next year.

‘Now that you’ve got a British team and it’s led by a Brit, you can see there’s a real hunger for it.

‘I think come the America’s Cup in 2017, there’s going to be a lot of Brits coming to Bermuda to support their team.

‘The British people always get behind their sporting teams and we know they’ll come out in force.

‘The funny thing is, even if we had raced yesterday, we probably would have still had a heap of people watching.

‘The Brits don’t get turned off by a bit of rain, that’s for sure.’

Spithill, whose team finished third overall, added: ‘These freak weather events are out of everyone’s hands, no-one can control it.

‘It’s disappointing that we couldn’t go out and improve on what we worked on on Saturday night.’

Nathan Outteridge, helmsman and skipper of Sweden’s Artemis Racing, explained why the racing was called off and accepted that the decision was the right call.

‘The wind speed was averaging 28-29 knots and it is over the limits that we 
are allowed to race in,’ he said.

‘The boats could have probably got out there, but I doubt they would have made it home.

‘It would have been a lot of fun but it also would have been a lot of risk.

‘But the biggest thing is that these boats are really new and nobody has had any time in them.

‘We haven’t sailed them over 20 knots in sailing.

‘You don’t want to learn how to sail on a race day.

‘When they are big waves like that, you have to think about the safety.’