Jimmy Spithill's charm offensive on Team NZ ahead of America's Cup match
Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill has gone on a charm offensive ahead of the America's Cup, dishing out rare praise to Team New Zealand.
Spithill and his Kiwi opposite on the wheel Peter Burling fronted the final media conference ahead of Sunday's opening races on Bermuda's Great Sound and Spithill was handing out pats on the back rather than digs in the ribs to his long-standing enemy.
"I'd like to the congratulate Pete and Team New Zealand for getting through a really tough qualifying series," Spithill said in his opening address.
"It has been tough sitting on the sidelines watching that racing but, man, I think it exceeded all of our expectations and I think we are going to see it go to another level if that's possible. I'm very very excited and I can't wait to get it on."
Spithill said it was too early to weigh up the differences between the two teams for the Cup match but expected the opening four races over Sunday and Monday (NZ time) to give the perfect indicator.
The teams break for a week after those four races, allowing further development, before returning to slog it out to match point.
"I think we have to wait and see, we have to get out there. The America's Cup is different pressure to what we have had. We are just going to have to see how this opening weekend plays out," Spithill said when asked about the comparative strengths of the two teams.
"We have two of the best teams in the world going head to head in a heavyweight battle. I think it's going to be one hell of a battle. Both of us are expecting the battle of our lives."
Spithill felt Team New Zealand had an advantage with their tough series against Britain and Sweden being played out while Oracle were restricted to testing and training, later along side eliminated syndicate Team Japan.
"I think it's an advantage for the challenger for sure. You do what you can in training but as athletes there's nothing like competition," Spithill said.
"But that's the game we play, we knew that going into it. We had a great qualifying series, we had some great racing there. It definitely went up another level into the playoffs, the semis and the finals.
"Having said that we have put in a lot of work. We've obviously been watching and learning from these guys. We have tried a lot of stuff and we have definitely improved."
Peter Burling said: "It's taken a massive effort to get this far. We've faced a lot of adversity over the last couple of weeks with things like the capsize, but our shore crew really dug deep to get us a boat that is fully back to 100 per cent and we are just really excited to get into it."