Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Spithill: America's Cup 'inconceivable' without NZ

Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill. Photo / GILLES MARTIN-RAGET
Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill. Photo / GILLES MARTIN-RAGET

Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill says it would be "inconceivable" to have an America's Cup without Team New Zealand in it.

Spithill, who is in New Zealand on holiday, told TVNZ's Breakfast programme this morning he couldn't imagine the America's Cup without the Kiwis.

"It's inconceivable to think of the America's Cup without Team New Zealand. They're one of the best teams in the world and have been so successful. Not just for sailing but they really have led boat building ... the level it's at now is up there with aerospace and a lot of those people come from the Southern Hemisphere."

Spithill said he had not encountered any animosity during his trip to New Zealand so far, despite having broken so many Kiwis' hearts.

"I think it's surprising to see how serious it is for some fans, especially in the heat of battle," he said.

"But I think at the end of the day one thing that Australians and New Zealanders always have is a lot of respect for sporting teams, win or lose.

"It was a bit of fun and there's always a bit of banter going on between Australia and New Zealand. But you guys have had it well for the last few years so it's about time we got one back from you."

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

Spithill laughed when asked about suggestions Oracle won the competition because of an automated device being introduced to stabilise the boat midway through the challenge - called Herbie in some reports.

"I wish we had a couple of things like that. But I think the commentators who came up with this conspiracy theory were pretty embarrassed when they actually learned that ... both systems were really exactly the same. It's a hydraulic system so you've got to move oil and to move oil you've got to turn the handles and that's what the grinders are doing.

"The only way to adjust it is through hard work by pumping oil."

Oracle pulled off one of the great comebacks in sporting history when they beat the Kiwis in the America's Cup regatta in San Francisco, despite trailing 8 - 1 at one stage.

Team New Zealand's place in future America's Cups has been in question due to funding uncertainties.

- APNZ

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