Jimmy Spithill knew he and Oracle Team USA deflated a nation when they stormed back to steal an unlikely victory in the 2013 America's Cup.

Fans in New Zealand thought it was in the bag. Emirates Team New Zealand had jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the best of 17 series and were just one win for taking back the Auld Mug.

Instead, they had to watch as Spithill led his crew past eight times in a row to hoist the Cup. At the time, it was a sweet win for the Australian sailor, but speaking to Newstalk ZB's Martin Devlin this week, he said he had sympathy for Team NZ's then-skipper Dean Barker.

"After we crossed that finish line in the last race I did think about it for sure. You could see how he and the team had the whole nation on their shoulders.


"In sporting battles it kind of becomes personal… but when you really look back and reflect on it all, a lot of the time the competitor is the one who's really pushing you and driving you.

"You can go from literally wanting to kill a guy on the water to becoming pretty good mates with him after."

Spithill's Team USA and Barker's Japanese syndicate formed a working relationship in the 2017 campaign in Bermuda, and the two will again find themselves as foes when they lead Luna Rossa and American Magic respectively to New Zealand in 2021.

Spithill was confident he could upset New Zealand fans again as he looked to repeat the feat of Russell Coutts' Alinghi syndicate who won the America's Cup in Auckland in 2003.
"Personally I wouldn't be here and I don't think the team would be here if they didn't think they had a shot at winning."

Interest has been high in the 2021 regatta ever since Team NZ announced the class rule for the event. The radical 75-foot monohull design expected to reach high speeds and bring another level of excitement to the racing on the water.

However there have been some critics of the choice of vessel to sail and when asked if he was a fan or not, Spithill said he didn't have the right to an opinion on it.

"Whether I'm a fan or not, it's not my choice," he said.

"It's simple in the America's Cup; if you want to decide what the next event is, where it's raced, boats you're sailing in, how the event's shaped you have to win it."