America's Cup: Jimmy Spithill savouring the moment as contest sits in the balance

If Jimmy Spithill is feeling the pressure of history, of expectation, of a flat-out even series in this captivating Americas Cup match, he is doing a heck of a job disguising it. You cant wipe the smile off his face.
The Aussie co-helmsman of Luna Rossa cut a relaxed figure on Saturday evening on Aucklands Viaduct as he reflected on another rollercoaster days racing that ended with honours even, and the final of this contest for sports oldest international trophy deadlocked, at 3-3.

As it had been after day one, and then again after day two. Three days of racing has shown us, really, only one thing: both of these teams have the measure of the other if they can get off the line the swiftest.

Luna Rossa are right where they want to be heading into Sunday's racing in the America's Cup match.

But at 3-3, in the tightest match the Americas Cup has seen in nearly four decades, Spithill occupies an interesting spot as he attempts to win the great trophy for Italy for the first time.

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The last time the Americas Cup match was 3-3, Australia II changed the course of history with their 4-3 victory over Liberty in Newport in 1983.

The Americas Cup was no longer Americas cup for the first time since the nation claimed it all the way back in 1851.

Now, 38 years on from that Newport classic, another Australian is heavily involved in a contest that sits tantalisingly poised at 3-3 after three days of racing, with still four more victories required to lift the Auld Mug.

Its awesome to see the scoreline all squared up, said Spithill, who has experienced both sides of the divide in this great sporting contest in the past. From a spectacle, a sporting event point of view, its fantastic. Every day you talk about the pressures and teams getting ready, its just an amazing opportunity for everyone that we can go out there and race.

Team NZ skipper thinks a possible weather change could shake-up the tied contest

We know back in Italy theyre in lockdown and going through some tough times, as are a lot of places in the world right now.

The fact we can go out there with nearly 2000 boats, people out partying, spectators, it is a very big privilege and we dont take that for granted.

Were pushing as hard as we can. Its a cool fact about Australia II and Liberty, and some great history. Lets hope this one goes down as one of the great fights on the water. We are very lucky to be out here every day and we certainly wake up in the morning and think, man, how good a day is it we get to go against the best team in the world and fight for the cup.

And right now its one heck of a scrap, with neither able to break the others stranglehold once they lead out.

Its a fascinating time for all helmsmen, for all the guys on board, added Spithill when asked about the pressure of the start box being so critical. Its a completely new game, a completely new style of boat. We are dealing with a defender who is the best in the world.

Its a fascinating time. Every day you go out there, every start and every race you learn so much. You could have a day off after every race just to get through all the lessons and data. Its a fascinating time pretty cool.

Jimmy Spithill says racing for the America's Cup is a privilege he definitely doesn't take for granted.

But not, he confirms, as simple as just nailing two starts in a row to gain a potentially decisive advantage in this tit-for-tat series.

Its changing all the time. This is new for everyone, and were all learning along the way. And the time you learn the most is when youre racing the best in the world at the pointy end of the competition.

We will just have to wait and see. The conditions have really favoured the lead boat, but we know there are courses and conditions that could change that. Or one team makes mistakes in the lead and well see a pass. But at the moment we havent, for all of those reasons.

Spithills co-helmsman Francesco Bruni said the nature of the courses and wind created the predictability of the racing after the start. But he warned it could all change with a shift in breeze, or move to a different track.

We cannot control the weather. The reality is both teams are sailing well, and that is why there are not so many passing lanes. You are waiting for someone to make a mistake and its not happening much.

And at 3-3, is he happy, or has it been a missed opportunity allowing Team NZ back into it the last two days?

Its the same for both teams. We both feel we could have more points on the scoreboard. But at the same time we understand how hard it is. I would say yes and no.


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