Friday, October 15, 2010

Spithill garners Male Sailor of the Year in Australian Yachting Awards

BMW ORACLE Racing announces with great pride that team skipper James Spithill has won the Australian Male Sailor of the Year award for 2009-2010.

Spithill (31, Sydney, Australia) won the award for guiding BMW ORACLE Racing’s trimaran USA to victory in the 33rd America’s Cup Match last February.

“It’s an honor to have won the award. I’d like to congratulate all the other competitors and nominees, and especially thank my family, my father (Arthur) and brother (Tom),” Spithill said in his acceptance speech.

Spithill’s father and brother represented him at the ceremony hosted by the sport’s national authority, Australian Yachting, at The Deckhouse, Sydney Harbor.

“I’d love to be there, but I’m in the Canary Islands competing at the RC 44 World Championship,” Spithill said in a video message broadcast at the ceremony.

“We just wrapped up the RC 44 world match racing part of the series. That’s what the award is all about, going out and winning races,” said Spithill.

Spithill previously won the Australian Sailor of the Year award in 2005-06 for winning the ISAF World Match Racing Championship and the Melges 24 World Championship.

Spithill is just the second Australian to skipper a winning America’s Cup yacht. He follows John Bertrand who, in 1983, steered the first challenger to win the America’s Cup and broke the New York Yacht Club’s 132-year winning streak.

“It’s been a fantastic year,” Spithill said. “The America’s Cup has been a dream of mine. Ever since I was a kid in 1983 and John Bertrand won in Australia II.

“To Larry Ellison (team founder) and Russell Coutts (CEO), it was a fantastic effort to build up the team they did. I thought it was quite courageous to make a decision on the wingsail, which is the largest wing ever built.

“This award is an individual award, but I’m not standing here as an individual. There’s no way I could have achieved what I have without the help of the team and my family.

“BMW ORACLE Racing was a team of more than 150 people. To get that sort of coordination, communication and teamwork working together, it was incredible feeling when it all comes together at the end and you pull off the result.”

Additionally, BMW ORACLE Racing sailing team coach Glenn Ashby (33, Melbourne, Australia) received the President’s Award from Australian Yachting.

Ashby played a critical role in expanding the sailing team’s confidence aboard the 90-foot trimaran at the beginning of the year. Later in the year, he and Spithill teamed up to capture second place at the International C Class Catamaran Championship.

Glenn Ashby (left) and Jimmy Spithill
“Quite simply, there’s no way I could have been ready to sail USA 17 in the America’s Cup without Glenn’s help,” said Spithill. “I speak on behalf of the sailing team when I say that. We had a very limited amount of time to sail the boat, and myself and most of the team didn’t come from multihull backgrounds.

“It was those long days on the water when Glenn pushed us and the boat to go beyond our own limits. I have to put that down to Glenn and his drive and determination.”

Ashby clinched his seventh A Class Catamaran World Championship in Italy last July. It was his 14th world title.

Watch Jimmy Spithill's acceptance speech

Watch Jimmy Spithill's remarks about Glenn Ashby