Amer­ica’s Cup skip­per Sp­ithill joins Italy’s Luna Rossa

Imperial Valley Press - - SPORTS - BY BERNIE WIL­SON AP Sports Writer

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Amer­ica’s Cup star Jimmy Sp­ithill is headed to the Ital­ian syn­di­cate Luna Rossa, leav­ing the fu­ture of Or­a­cle Team USA in doubt.

Luna Rossa, backed by the Prada fash­ion house, an­nounced Tues­day that Sp­ithill, an Aus­tralian, has re­joined the syn­di­cate af­ter 11 years away. He was helms­man in the 2007 chal­lenger tri­als, when Luna Rossa reached the fi­nals be­fore los­ing to Emi­rates Team New Zealand.

Sp­ithill’s sign­ing with Luna Rossa, which is the Chal­lenger of Record for the 2021 Amer­ica’s Cup, raises ques­tions about whether Or­a­cle Team USA’s owner, tech bil­lion­aire Larry El­li­son, is fin­ished with the Amer­ica’s Cup.

Sp­ithill skip­pered Or­a­cle Team USA to con­sec­u­tive land­mark Amer­ica’s Cup vic­to­ries.

As a 30-year-old in 2010, Sp­ithill be­came the youngest skip­per to win the Amer­ica’s Cup when he steered Or­a­cle Team USA to vic­tory over a Swiss crew in a one-off show­down that was the re­sult of a bit­ter court fight.

In 2013, he led Or­a­cle Team USA to one of the big­gest come­backs in sports. Af­ter Or­a­cle fell be­hind 8-1, he steered the Amer­i­can-based boat to eight straight vic­to­ries against Emi­rates Team New Zealand on San Fran­cisco Bay to re­tain the Auld Mug. His third go-round with Or­a­cle ended with a lop­sided loss to the Ki­wis in June in Ber­muda. Sp­ithill wasn’t avail­able for com­ment Tues­day, and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Or­a­cle Team USA didn’t re­turn emails seek­ing com­ment. El­li­son re­port­edly is in­ter­ested in putting to­gether a se­ries that will be con­tested in the 50-foot cata­ma­rans used in the 2017 Amer­ica’s Cup.

he 2021 Amer­ica’s Cup will be sailed in rad­i­cal foil­ing mono­hulls.

AP PHOTO/ GRE­GORY BULL

In this June 16, file photo, Or­a­cle Team USA skip­per and helms­man Jimmy Sp­ithill stands along­side the Amer­ica’s Cup tro­phy, known as the “Auld Mug,” be­fore a news con­fer­ence in Hamil­ton, Ber­muda. Sp­ithill, who skip­pered Or­a­cle Team USA to two land­mark vic­to­ries in the Amer­ica’s Cup, has joined Ital­ian syn­di­cate Luna Rossa. Luna Rossa, backed by the Prada fash­ion house, an­nounced the hir­ing on Tues­day.

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