Spithill: I told porkies at Cup media conferences

Jimmy Spithill's success was one of the greatest comebacks in history. Photo / AP
Jimmy Spithill's success was one of the greatest comebacks in history. Photo / AP

The Australian-born sailor who broke New Zealand's hearts with his come-from-behind victory in the America's Cup admits he lied at press conferences during the regatta.

The surprise admission by Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill - made to 60 Minutes reporter Belinda Henley for a show to be screened tomorrow night - reveals how far he stretched the truth to try to rock Team New Zealand captain Dean Barker.

"Most of it at press conferences is all about trying to get into the other guy's head, playing mind games," Spithill said. "Every time I stated we could win, that was true. Every time I said we wouldn't give up, that was true ... But when I was saying we were changing the boat every night ... nah, we weren't. We made a few changes but we wanted it to be known we were doing huge things every night."

Oracle trimmer Joe Newton, a childhood friend of Spithill's, backed his skipper's actions.

"Jimmy is a rough little redhead from Sydney - he's a grubby little thing in the press conferences."

Speaking at the Oracle base soon after the 9-8 win, Spithill, 34, said he personally felt for Barker.

"When you are in the heat of the battle, things are said and you are playing mind games, but Dean is a champion and Dean had the weight of a nation on his shoulders and he shouldn't have ... It seems wrong to me.

"The guy is out there having a go and leading a fantastic team, what more can you ask? Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. In my mind he's a champion. We've had some great battles and I can't wait to take him on again."

Spithill also said he was amazed at the rumours that swirled around one of the greatest comebacks in the history of sport.

"The last one I heard, [Sir Russell] Coutts had a remote control sitting on the chase boat. He could drive grinders, drive the boat ... he could do everything. I wish he had; it would have made it much easier for us."

Likewise, Spithill dismissed talk of automation being introduced to stabilise the Oracle boat midway through the challenge - some reports called the device Herbie.

"It's comedic, this talk of there being a super system on the boat ... [It's] people trying to look for a silver bullet. Unfortunately [it] just came down to hard work.

"Let me be crystal clear, because obviously you are very misled: There is no Herbie. Herbie is a car that drives around in movies.

"This super stability system, if anyone has got it, send it to me and we will use it next time. For people to suggest or come up with fairytales, it's comedic. [I] can't believe people coming up with that.

"I'd be shocked if it was coming from Team NZ as they are champions and there is no way they would suggest that, as it was a fair fight and they were beaten fair and square.

"Our boat was measured every morning and afternoon just like Team New Zealand."

60 Minutes screens on Prime tomorrow at 9.35pm.

- Herald on Sunday

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