America's Cup: Oracle fired up - Spithill

By Paul Lewis

A defiant Oracle Team USA skipper, Jimmy Spithill, promised his team would "never give up" and called for US fan support as the pre-race preparation for the America's Cup enters its last hours.

Saying he was "shocked" at the jury decision to dock OTUSA two points, exclude four team members, including a senior member of the racing crew, and fine them US$250,000, Spithill spoke energetically about the "fire in the belly" of his team and his hopes that US fans would get behind them.

"For me, when I look at this team, I see real strength," he said at the skippers' press conference this morning - the traditional last public utterances before the teams go into complete lockdown.

"We have our backs against the wall, we have been challenged and we are fighting for our lives right now.

"This is the team I want to be with. There is a real hunger and real purpose in this team because of what has transpired. They can't wait to get out there on Saturday - the boys are really fired up."

Spithill said he had moved on from his shock at the jury decision this week.

"I think it is harsh to judge a team on the actions of some individuals," he said. "But, frankly, I have moved on. There is nothing I can do to change the jury decision and, anyway, we have one thing to focus on - getting out there and racing these guys [Emirates Team NZ].

"

Asked what his message to Oracle supporters would be, Spithill said: "We have been successful in US-based events and the reason for that is because we have had people behind us.

You know, it works here for the Giants, the 49ers and the Warriors -it's a big deal and the guys on the boat can feel that.

"If there was ever a time we needed the people of the USA and San Francisco to get behind us, it's now. If we can get those people behind us at a tough moment like this, well, that's great. We want to keep this thing [the America's Cup] here - these guys don't [gesturing at Team NZ]. We are reliant upon San Francisco to come out and support us.

"We don't need to motivate our guys - they are hungry and motivated. It doesn't matter what happens on the shore or what games are played - in the end you have to win the America's Cup on the water.

"That's what we'll do. This team will never use it [the jury penalties] as an excuse. This is a team that doesn't give up and will fight all the way."

Spithill also confirmed that OTUSA would race Boat 2 instead of the fast but more unstable Boat 1.

- NZ Herald

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