Aussie Jimmy Spithill has revealed how Kiwi sailing legend Sir Peter Blake played a big part in his America's Cup involvement.

Spithill's Cup career began in 2000 with the Young Australia campaign in Auckland but without Blake's help, Spithill may never have competed, Spithill reveals in his new book Chasing the Cup - My America's Cup Journey.

The team, headed by Australian sailing great Syd Fischer and 19-year-old Spithill was underfunded and unlike the other 10 syndicates, had no base.

"On arrival, we did not even have anywhere suitable in which to dock our boat near the Viaduct Basin in Auckland, which was the pit lane for the America's Cup.


"So for us it was a case of 'if you don't have any money you have to be creative'."

The solution was a 165ft-long 100-ton barge called Hikinu with a towering blue crane.

"That meant we could haul the boat out of the water after each day's sailing and also have a base for our operations.

"Even so we were blocked from docking this monstrosity anywhere near the Viaduct Basin.

"Fortunately I had a lifeline I could use," says Spithill.

Blake had told him when he met him at a Sydney fundraising event to call him if he ever needed any help.

Spithill recalls his call to Blake. 'Hey, Peter, it's Jimmy Spithill. You've probably heard we don't have any money for a proper base, but we have found this barge which we can have in the Viaduct in a couple of hours. But I am told they won't let us bring it in for obvious reasons ... we don't fit the America's Cup image.'

Blake told him he would sort something out.

An hour later he, Blake and Grant Davidson, the man responsible for the Viaduct, were standing at the Basin entrance watching the barge being towed towards them.

But Davidson was not so sure and said the barge could not come in.

"But as soon as we had it tied up, that was that- we decided we weren't going anywhere. I went and untied the tugboat and told the captain to get out of there.

"Don't ask me how we got away with it, but this old grey thing with the big blue giraffe of a crane and a couple of shipping containers on the deck, which served as tool sheds, simply stayed put ... right in front of the brand-new, mega expensive development where the other multi-million syndicates were based."

Young Australia were knocked out of the round-robin and Luna Rossa held out AmericaOne 5-4 to win the right to challenge Team New Zealand for the Cup.

Team NZ, led by Russell Coutts, completely dominated the match, winning 5-0.

"I flew out of Auckland knowing that everyone in the Young Australia team could hold their head high; we had beaten the odds and stood up to be counted. Prior to the event there were plenty of people saying it was dangerous for Young Australia to be out there - that we were in over our heads.

"But unlike many other teams, we never caused a collision and no one was injured.

"Despite the old boat and the lack of a shore crew and a proper base, alongside little financial support, the Young Australia campaign was the most fun. Why? Because there were no expectations apart from the ones we put on ourselves; we were just kids living the dream."