Saturday, October 16, 2010

Soaring in the Canaries

It took a visit to an island in the Atlantic Ocean for Jimmy Spithill to shake the monkey that’s been dogging him since February. But he did it in style.

Spithill and the crew of the yacht 17, including guest helmsman Anders Myralf, wrapped up the RC 44 World Championship today by placing second in the fleet racing portion of the event. Coupled with their first in the match racing, 17 won the overall title by 1 point from BMW ORACLE Racing, led by Russell Coutts and guest helmsman Jose Juan Calero.

After entering the final day of fleet racing with the overall lead, 17 almost threw it all away. The crew was OCS in the first race and then had to do penalty turns in the next two. But a 7th in the final race, which featured a port-starboard altercation with Coutts and crew, was enough to wrap up the week.

“Congrats to the BMW ORACLE Racing boys for taking first, but it feels great to take the overall championship,” said Spithill.

“Funny enough we got tangled up with our teammates in the last race,” Spithill said. “We gave them some nice words after that. But at the end of the day we fought back and that was the key to the week, keeping calm and not giving up until the end. The guys thoroughly deserve the result.”

Coutts said: “They made an error there and left their tack late and we had to avoid them.”

Coutts, Calero and BMW ORACLE Racing won the fleet racing with the score of 49 points, 5 points ahead of 17. They were tied with No Way Back for the fleet lead going into the final race, but BMW ORACLE Racing worked the left side of the first beat to round in second, all but sealing the win.

Guest helmsman Calero said the week was a dream come true and that he was honored to be asked to helm in place of Larry Ellison. He summed up the week more succinctly at the awards ceremony.

“I’d like to thank Russell and the crew for a fantastic week,” said Calero. “I have to say that after three days with Russell yelling in my ear, this is a well deserved prize for sure.”