Spithill and Oracle aim for third straight America's Cup win
The chance to win a third straight America's Cup title with Oracle Team USA was a bigger allure to skipper Jimmy Spithill than accepting a big-money offer from a rival challenger.
Spithill announced that he'll be back with Oracle Team USA for the 35th America's Cup, which is expected to be held in August 2017.
The 34-year-old Australian said that his relationships with software billionaire Larry Ellison, who owns Oracle Team USA, and syndicate CEO Russell Coutts, a five-time cup winner, are too important.
"It's obviously great to be back," Spithill said. "There were some really great offers out there but I've been a part of this since day one, when we had our first win in 2010. Larry was a big part of it for me. He's always sort of backed me up even in some tough times, and Russell. I wouldn't be here without them. I want the opportunity, too, to potentially win three in a row as a skipper. This is really such a great team. I want to keep it going with them and I want to go for the three-peat."
In 2010, Spithill, then 30, became the youngest skipper to win the America's Cup when Oracle beat Alinghi of Switzerland off Valencia, Spain.
Spithill helped lead one of the greatest comebacks in sailing when Oracle Team USA won eight straight races against Emirates Team New Zealand to win the 34th America's Cup last September.
Spithill said one of the syndicates that made a run at him was Italy's Luna Rossa, but said he wouldn't be where he is today without Ellison and Coutts.
Spithill said of Ellison, the CEO of Oracle: "[He] is a bit of a mentor but also a good mate. To get that relationship with someone like that, they're probably few and far between in a lifetime. It's the same with Russell. They're obviously both tough guys and competitors, but are very fair. That's the kind of environment I enjoy working in. They give you kind of the burden of trust. They're not micro-managers. It's a kind of environment in which you get opportunities, and that allows you to grow."