Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fly by wire

Standing at the helmsman’s station between the central and outer hulls on USA-17, skipper Jimmy Spithill was sometimes more than 50 feet off the water when the windward hull was flying.

This week, our skipper is flying a little closer to the agua as he takes on a different position at the F18 World Championship in France. Jimmy is hanging from a trapeze as crew for fellow Aussie Glenn Ashby, the team’s invaluable sailing coach during the Cup in Valencia.

(Glenn, above, left, hangs a "shaka" while Jimmy punches the air after BMW ORACLE Racing won the 33rd America's Cup.)

Given the duo’s outstanding track record, you’d have to like their chances. Jimmy, of course, expertly guided USA-17 around the racecourse last February to win the America’s Cup. He’s the youngest-ever skipper to win the oldest trophy awarded in sports.

Glenn is a three-time world champion in the F18, and last week he won the A Class Catamaran World Championship for an incredible seventh time. Jimmy was meant to compete at the championship in Italy, but was a late withdrawal due to other things. Like visiting the President of the United States. And ringing the NASDAQ opening bell. All while celebrating his 31st BDAY.

Glenn didn’t have time to savor his victory. Moments after being presented the world championship trophy on Friday evening in Cesenatico, Italy, on the Adriatic coast, he was off to Erquy, France, on the north coast of Brittany, for the F18s, which started yesterday.

The coach-now-skipper and skipper-now-crew were placed 13th overall in the fleet of 159 boats after five races. With discards included in the scorelines, Glenn and Jimmy have 34 points. Racing runs through Saturday, so look for more updates later in the week.