James Spithill lets fly over big budget claims

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 14/03/2013
James Spithill
JAMES SPITHILL: "We have got a budget and we need to stick to it."

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Oracle skipper James Spithill has attacked Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton, describing Kiwi claims of the America's Cup holders having unlimited resources as "just complete crap".

Spithill an Australian hired gun, who in 2010 became the youngest skipper to win the America's Cup, vented his frustration in a lengthy interview with respected yachting website Sail World about the looming contest in San Francisco. At the end of the interview, Spithill was asked if he had any comments on the challengers' programme where Team NZ, Italy's Luna Rossa and Sweden's Artemis Racing are vying to race Oracle.

"Yes. Grant Dalton constantly whenever he gets asked something in the media about Oracle he makes the statement that we have got unlimited resources and we can do anything we like. It is just complete crap," Spithill said.

"[Oracle backer] Larry Ellison didn't get to where he is by just throwing money. We have got a budget and we have to stick to it. We have to make compromises and sacrifices and, for some reason, part of their strategy is to go out and try to act like the little team out there.

"They [Team NZ] have got a big budget. A really big budget. Him just going around saying we have got unlimited resources is just complete bullshit."

Spithill was then asked if Team NZ, which has government funding, was spending more money than Oracle.

"I don't know," he said. "I can see that they are spending a lot of money. More than they make out that they have got.

"They have just got a huge design team and Dalton saying we have got unlimited resources is just complete crap."

There is no love lost between Team NZ and Oracle, who have former New Zealand skipper Russell Coutts overseeing their defence of the cup.

While Spithill acknowledged Team NZ had enjoyed the benefit of a lot of time on the water in the new 72-foot catamarans which are being used in the event for the first time, the Sydney-raised sailor made it clear he was happy in his American syndicate.

"Trust me, I don't wish I was a New Zealander. That would never ever happen."

Spithill, 33, has history against Team NZ. In 2007, he skippered Luna Rossa against the Kiwis in the Louis Vuitton Cup final in Valencia. Team NZ whitewashed Spithill 5-0.

Spithill also hit out at Team NZ's obvious comfort in having a largely trouble-free run with both of their catamarans. Team NZ has also had the luxury of sailing against Luna Rossa who are based in Auckland.

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"Team NZ has had more sailing time and they have been making a big deal about it," Spthill said. "But this is also yacht race and I can tell you one thing that Team NZ struggled on is the racing part. When the pressure came on in Newport in the final world series, they dropped the ball there.

"The last two events in San Francisco - they didn't perform that well either. That's with one design of course. The America's Cup is a lot of that as well but it is a combination this time. The other thing is that it is not a day count competition. There is no trophy for the team that sails the most.

"Maybe now they have been making a big deal about it but the trophy isn't awarded if you do more sailing days than other teams."

Spithill pointed out Team NZ would lose sailing time when it transported its yachts and gear from Auckland to San Francisco in May. By then Oracle hoped to have its second boat in the water, which would be an advantage. Fairfax NZ

- The Dominion Post

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