When Jimmy Spithill was recruited by Luna Rossa almost three years ago, there was a simple message for the Australian star.
Spithill is one of the most successful America's Cup skippers of all time, winning the Auld Mug in 2010 and defending it three years later.
Only Russell Coutts and Dennis Conner have helmed more Cup-winning boats in the modern era, and Spithill's prominence - he was involved in every Cup match of the last decade – almost made him the face of the event.
Spithill was heavily promoted by Oracle during his tenure, with the rest of the American team seemingly pushed into the background.
But when Spithill sat down to discuss a role with the Italian syndicate in early 2018, it was going to be different. Luna Rossa knew he could make a vital difference – with his skills, winning mentality and famed 'never say die' spirit – but there was a caveat.
"When I talked about the contract with him I said 'You are going to be one of the guys, not the guy," Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena told the Herald. "It was like that with everybody, including Jimmy."
Sirena was adamant that no one individual would be bigger than the group, regardless of their personal profile or past achievements.
"An America's Cup team is not built by one single rock star," said Sirena. "Each member of the team is [vital]. Even the guy in the kitchen - they get the same importance as the guy in the design office or the guy steering the boat.
"I don't want to have a rock star – because if a single rock star fails, the whole team will fail. We need to be as tight as possible and working for the same goal.
"We are all here for the team, myself included. Otherwise, I would put myself on the yacht, like others, but I am not doing that because I am the head of the team."
It's a principle that Sirena has partly adopted from Team New Zealand, after working with them during the last Cup cycle. The Kiwi syndicate are obsessive about the team approach, and you won't see many media stories profiling particular individuals, because the defenders try to avoid that scenario.
It's meant a different perception of Spithill in Auckland.
He was everywhere in San Francisco and Bermuda but stayed in the background leading into this campaign.
Spithill spoke at the launch of Luna Rossa's second boat on October 19, then wasn't seen again in the media until the start of the America's Cup World Series in late December. It was a deliberate strategy, maybe because of his spiky history with Team New Zealand.
"I tried to keep Jimmy away from a personal level interview, to avoid any misunderstanding," said Sirena. "I believe people could change, as they go from one team to another."
Spithill has embraced the shift and also appears to be thriving in the dual-helmsman set-up, alongside Francesco Bruni. It's unusual – both are highly accomplished individuals and co-captains are rare in elite sport - but so far it is working.
"We decided to not shuffle people and have two helmsmen," said Sirena. "It was an idea which started immediately from day one."
It's symbolic of Luna Rossa's collective approach, which they hope will pay off in next week's Prada Cup final.
Spithill and Bruni are contrasting personalities.
Bruni is quiet and considered, though with fierce determination. Spithill is naturally effusive and a straight shooter – especially on the media stage – but brings a different persona behind the scenes.
"[Jimmy] brings lots of experience, and his mentality is to be always cool and chilled, even when things go wrong," said grinder Nicholas Brezzi. "I think you saw it after the [Prada Cup round robin]. We got back up quite quickly."
For his part Spithill is positive about the team dynamic.
"It's been a lot of fun sailing with 'Keko' (Bruni)," said Spithill. "We've actually competed a lot against each other, worked together in the past, and it's great because we're able to not only discuss tactics at the end of the day, but also the performance of the boat.
"We both spend a considerable amount of time driving the boat, and flying it, so we have a unique perspective on this combination."
Heading into the Cup racing?
• Give yourself plenty of time and think about catching a ferry, train or bus to watch the Cup.
• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It's the best way to ride.
• Don't forget to scan QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app when on public transport and entering the America's Cup Village.
• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup.