Jimmy Spithill has been called a few choice names by many Kiwis over the years.
But this controversial Australian yachtie is adamant he’s looking forward to racing up Northland’s east coast on a New Zealand boat with Kiwi crew.
As a skipper and helmsman, Spithill has won the America’s Cup twice, once for BMW Oracle Racing in 2010 and Oracle Team USA in 2013.
Then he lost defending the Auld Mug in June, memorably bequeathing his throne to Team New Zealand at the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda.
Jimmy Spithill is now an unexpected starter in the annual PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic offshore sailing race from Auckland’s Devonport Wharf to Russell in the Bay of Islands, starting on October 20.
He will be one of the crew members on the Orma 60 trimaran, Frank Racing. In 2014, the boat broke the race record by sailing the 119 nautical mile “drag race” in five hours and 13 minutes.
The race usually features around 150 starters in everything from small keel boats to high-performance mono-hulls and multi-hulls.
Frank Racing owner and skipper Simon Hull said Spithill would be positioned as a tactician on the boat, “but it would be silly not to use his driving skills”.
Frank Racing, which was known as Team Vodafone Sailing formerly, takes part in a promotional event with Jimmy Spithill and Team New Zealand sailor Blair Tuke.
“It will be great to have Jimmy and the sailing intensity that he will inevitably bring. Both personally and to focusing the crew,” Hull said.
It is a first for Jimmy Spithill to compete in the event, although he said he’s “always wanted to do it”.
“[It] looks like a great race and should be a heap of fun,” he said.
“I’ve flown helicopters along that coast, but always wanted to see it all from a boat. Hopefully we get good breeze.”