Friday, March 19, 2010

A pair of aces

Jimmy Spithill had a few moments with one of his heroes, John Bertrand - skipper of the first challenger to win the Cup - this morning in Auckland. Bertrand was in town to take in the final few days of the Louis Vuitton Trophy, and both men met the media this morning.

Spithill spoke about that moment in 1983 when Bertrand steered Australia II to that historic victory - or at least as much of it as he can remember as he was just three years old!

“It was such a key moment for Australia, probably our proudest sporting moment in the history of Australian sport. It was such a legendary story, it was every kid’s dream. We looked up to John and the guys on the boat. Where I was brought up, I lived near the Beashels, and Rob Brown was round the same little bay where I grew up. If it hadn’t been done, I probably would have still ended up in sailing, but probably without the hunger I had after that win,” Spithill says.

As for Bertrand, he first spent some time with Jimmy during the 1999-2000 Louis Vuitton Cup, when Spithill became the youngest man to skipper a team racing to become the Cup challenger.

“I gave a little talk to the team, and I remember James with all these questions, and how enthusiastic all these young men from Downunder were,” Bertrand said.

“It’s fantastic. He’s a great ambassador for Australia, the way he has conducted himself all through his career.

“I must say I was very proud to see James doing his thing (in the 33rd America’s Cup) having known James over the years, and doing it in such style. It was an incredible technology battle; another era of the America’s Cup no question about it. From a purist point of view it was fascinating, from a Joe Public point of view it was intriguing."

** Images courtesy of Bob Grieser / Louis Vuitton Trophy