Nationality rule for America's Cup dashed

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 13:58 07/03/2014

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Any hopes of Oracle getting serious about a nationality rule for the next America's Cup appear dashed by the naming of their team to train in Australia.

The lack of local sailors on respective crews at the last cup was a major talking point of the regatta.

Oracle beat Team New Zealand to retain the cup with just one American amongst their 11-man crew - Rome Kirby.

The number of Americans has doubled for now with Andrew Campbell joining Kirby in Sydney for a training camp that includes some races against Team Australia who are backed by Hamilton Island Yacht Club, the new Challenger of Record.

Oracle have five Australians in their eight-man crew announced for Sydney - skipper Jimmy Spithill, Tom Slingsby, Kinley Fowler, Kyle Langford and Joey Newton. Kiwi Joe Spooner is also in the mix.

While the protocol for the next cup is still to be announced, early expectations are that just 25 per cent of crews will need to be aligned to their syndicate's country of origin.

With the massive catamarans tipped to be reduced to 62-feet, the crew sizes are likely to be cut to eight.

So, right now Oracle would fulfil that nationality requirement with Campbell's inclusion alongside Kirby.

Larry Ellison, the billionaire behind the champion team, has made no apologies for his "hired gun" policy.

Campbell, 30, is a 10-time national champion who represented the United States at the 2008 Olympic Games in the Laser class. This will be his first America's Cup team.

"It's a thrill to be joining Oracle Team USA," Campbell said as his place in the crew was confirmed on the team's website today.

"The talent level and experience on this crew is second to none. This is a group of guys who have been together through some serious obstacles and they've won the ultimate prize in our sport. For me these first days will be about learning the systems, getting some hours in on the boat and spending time with the guys to form those bonds that are so important as a team."

Spithill, whose never-say-die attitude was at the heart of Oracle's remarkable comeback against Team New Zealand, is looking forward to getting back into action.

"Most of the guys were on board for the last America's Cup, so they've been battle-tested and know what to expect," Spithill said of his crew.

"Andrew Campbell joins us as a very talented, motivated, American sailor who has proven he knows how to win in the Olympic classes. I think we have a good combination."

Team Australia have pledged to sail their boat with an all-Australian crew. The syndicate is adamant that has to be the way forward, given Australia's long absence from the cup.

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- Fairfax Media

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