Team New Zealand has continued its hiring spree, today announcing the appointment of five-time America's Cup winner Murray Jones.
The addition of Jones to the line-up follows yesterday's announcement sailing coach Rod Davis has returned to the team to help finetune the crew's match-racing skills, while the team last month added young sailors Josh Junior and Andy Maloney to the line up.
The bolstering of Team New Zealand's ranks comes after the America's Cup organising body are believed to have been forced to pay out millions in compensation to the Kiwi syndicate for a breach in contract dispute. The complaint was heard by an Arbitration Panel in the UK in July, but as yet America's Cup officials are yet to announce the outcome of the hearing.
Jones, who won the Auld Mug with Team New Zealand in 1995 and 2000, was one of the "big five" who controversially followed Russell Coutts in defecting to Swiss syndicate Alinghi in the aftermath of New Zealand's successful Cup defence. Jones then followed Coutts to Oracle Team USA, where he was involved behind the scenes in masterminding the team's incredible comeback in San Francisco.
An America's Cup Hall of Famer, Jones is excited to be back with the team he first won the America's Cup with early in his sailing career.
"It's great to be back, it has been a long time since I was part of this team. I have a lot of friends in the team and a lot of people that I have respected over the years and obviously a really great sailing and design team."
Jones' return to the fray came after some successful arm-twisting on the part of sailing director Glenn Ashby, another former Oracle alumni.
"Up until now, I had stepped out of the cup this time around. But as the teams progressed in their campaigns I obviously started to get a bit more interested in what is going on and missing it a little bit and coincidentally Glenn Ashby called up and asked me if I was interested in helping out so he talked me into it."
Ashby knew having someone of Jones' calibre and experience would be a huge asset going into the vitally important final six to seven months of the campaign.
"Already some big decisions have been made, certainly there are a few more ahead but we are coming to the stage of the campaign where refinement and focus on the final push for the cup in 2017 are most important and coming in at this stage Murray can provide a fresh perspective on progress and knows better than most of where priorities should lie from here."
From Jones' experience it is decisions in the next two months that will have a big bearing on winning the cup.
"The cup is always won by the fastest boat and will be again this time. So just putting decisions in place and making sure you make the right ones from now as well as not making backward steps is key towards giving yourself a chance at the end."
"The entire team have clearly been quietly working away tirelessly on some really exciting design work that is showing a lot of potential. I have a lot of respect for what Pete Burling and Blair Tuke have achieved at an Olympic level, pair that with Glenn [Ashby], Ray [Davies] and Richard [Meacham] and they are the nucleus of a very strong sailing team so it is exciting times ahead even though its only 6 or 7 months and it will be all over, but there will be a lot happening in that period."
Jones' daughter Gemma is vying for a place in the New Zealand entry for the Red Bull Youth America's Cup.