Jimmy Spithill's unsure of his America's Cup future, but that won't stop him contesting line honours in today's annual Coastal Classic yacht race from Auckland to Russell.

The two-time America's Cup winning skipper has formed a friendship with Simon Hull, the owner of the trimaran Frank Racing which is the defending champion.

Spithill flew into his home-away-from-home this morning and was whisked straight onto the boat at Westhaven marina.

The 38-year-old will be in familiar territory. He is the only skipper to win the Auld Mug in a trimaran when Oracle triumphed over Alinghi at Valencia in 2010.


"I think I'll be handing the lunches out from downstairs," he quipped, when asked about his race role.

"The cool thing with these boats is it's a bit like a rugby game; regardless of your position you've got to get in and do a bit of everything.

"Every boat's different in how you set it up. These guys [the Frank Racing crew] have spent a lot of hours and hold the race record. You only do that if you've figured out how to sail it."

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Spithill said the Coastal Classic was an event he'd wanted to do for some time.

"When Simon got in contact I jumped at the idea. It's a beautiful piece of water on a great coastline which I've only flown over previously.

"Looking at the weather [cloudy with southwest breezes] and the competition, I think we'll be pushed. It'll be a fun race.

"There will be some watching and learning for me, but at times it can be good to bring someone in from outside to offer a different opinion."

Spithill is renowned for his love of camaraderie in the sport. For example, he brought trays of beer into the Emirates Team New Zealand sheds after they wrested the America's Cup from his Oracle syndicate this year in Bermuda. That helped forge the bond with Hull, who led Team New Zealand's youth campaign.

"There's a natural competitive rivalry between Australians and New Zealanders but also a massive amount of respect," Spithill said.

"That's something I've been taught regardless of winning, losing or drawing; you congratulate your competitors and share a beer in the locker room."

As a 20-year-old, Spithill first came to New Zealand to compete in the 2000 Louis Vuitton Cup with the Young Australia crew. He was the America's Cup's youngest helmsman and has raced every regatta since.

There's no guarantee he will be at the 2021 event, even with talk of a rejuvenated Australian syndicate in the offing.

"I'm not sure. I'm keeping my options open and have to think things through.

"There's certainly some talk [about an Australian syndicate]. We'll just have to wait and see. I operate on the facts, and I don't have any. Kiwis were fantastic looking after us as a young team back then [in 2000 and 2003] but we'll just have to see what the future holds.

"Regardless, I think New Zealand will host a great event. It'll be like hosting the rugby World Cup - people are so passionate about it. You just have to look at the start line today with 150 boats ready for a short coastal race. New Zealanders love the water and their yachting."