Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sailor Profile - Joe Newton

There aren't many sailors who can claim to be on their fourth America's Cup campaign whilst still in their early thirties, but Joe Newton (AUS) is one of them.

Getting an early start with Syd Fischer's Young Australia team in the 1999-2000 Cup in Auckland, Newton has never left the scene, moving in lockstep with James Spithill through the OneWorld (02-03) and Luna Rossa (04-07) campaigns.

"I've known Jimmy for a long time," he says. "We started racing against each other at around 18 or 19 in youth match racing between the two different states we lived in. Then, at one point, Jimmy had to go do an match race regatta overseas in Italy and asked me to go and crew for him and we've done a lot of match racing together since then, including the last four America's Cups."

On board, Newton usually works closely with Spithill. As a trimmer in the last three Cups, he was responsible for the power and trim of the boat. Now, with the wing sail, that role has evolved slightly.

"My role is wing sail caddy. Normally I'm a trimmer on an AC boat and so that led into helping out with the wing sail trimming. I help out Dirk de Ridder with the main sail - in this case, the wing sail - trimming and do a lot of other small jobs around the boat as well. I also help out Rosco with the headsail trimming, being his offside trimmer and trim the runner when we're sailing upwind.

"The wing sail is completely different. It's like nothing we've ever seen. We sailed a lot on the C-Class boats in Canada and got an idea of the concept. But until you get to the scale of the wing sail we're using, you really have no idea of what it's going to be like. It's an amazing bit of engineering to go out and use. It's a simple way to go sailing. Once it's up and sailing in the boat, it's much easier (than a soft sail) to get a really good level of performance out of it."

It's a long way from youth sailing in Australia in Sabots, 420s and Lasers.

"My father was the one who got me into it and encouraged me and supported it. It's can be an expensive sport when you're trying to sail at a competitive level so I'm indebted to my family for that support."

What's been the best part of the past three years?

I think probably just a couple of days ago, screaming around in 22 knots of breeze with the wing sail up. It's an amazing boat and you feel pretty privileged to be able to sail on it. I can't imagine anything like this being built again for very a long time, so we're all extremely lucky to be able to sail on it."