If Australia is quick to claim some of the credit for lifting the America's Cup, it can surely take some of the blame for losing it too.

American sailing legend Dennis Conner, still distraught at Team New Zealand's triumph over Oracle Team USA this week, has pointed a finger of blame at Aussie skipper Jimmy Spithill for the defeat and virtually disowned the mainly Aussie crew.

"He went out of the boundaries, he got over the [start] line early, he committed several fouls," Conner told his local San Diego TV channel.

"He just didn't have the best series he's ever had and he's paying for it with a loss. I've lost that Cup a couple of times myself and it's a horrible, horrible feeling."


While the Oracle syndicate was bank-rolled by American tycoon Larry Ellison, the syndicate was headed by Kiwi Russell Coutts and all but one of the six-man crew was Australian.

By contrast, the presence of just one Aussie aboard the NZ boat - skipper Glenn Ashby - has had our trans-Tasman neighbours scrambling for a piece of the accolades.

"Even though they are really not Americans, as we know, there's still an American flag on their boat and so, as an American, I'm disappointed to see [New Zealand] win," said Conner of the Oracle effort.

"In Stars and Stripes, we had an all-American crew. There's no American crew on the Oracle boat, so from that standpoint, OK, we'll wish them well and they did a good job."

Conner made dubious history in 1983, when he lost the Auld Mug to Australia II, ending a 132-year reign by the New York Yacht Club. He won it back again in 1987, only to lose the trophy again to Team New Zealand eight years later.

He has also shown a knack for ruffling feathers with his brash demeanour over the years, infamously accusing the Kiwis of cheating when they sailed a plastic yacht during their 1987 challenge off Fremantle.

This time, though, he was full of praise for the Kiwi ingenuity that provided an edge over the rivals, especially the use of pedals to generate power through the ACC catatamarans.

"The crew on the New Zealand boat have to keep hydraulic power up with their legs," he said. "But the other crew try to keep the hydraulic power up with their arms, the traditional way.

"We know that legs are a lot stronger and have a lot more power, so the Kiwis got the drop on them in a lot of ways."

Moving forward, Conner saw the America's Cup being dominated by a younger, more athletic generation, but one thing remained constant.

"It's all about the money," he said. "You can have the best sailors in the world, but without the boat and the equipment, technology, crew, backup, logistics ... you can't win.

"So first comes the money. Once you get the money, then you can get the talent, technology ... that's probably equally important to the crew."