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Spithill preparing to go under the knife

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Set for surgery: Spithill

Jimmy Spithill, the skipper of 35th America’s Cup defender Oracle Team USA, will finally undergo elbow surgery next month.

The 2014 ISAF Rolex Sailor of the Year postponed the procedure late last year and instead made an appearance in the Melges class in Florida and more recently competed in the Sydney Hobart Race.

However, the Australian sailor has been advised by doctors to follow through with the surgery to rectify the injury he suffered two years ago whilst preparing for the 34th America’s Cup — or risk being ruled out of Oracle’s next Cup defence in Bermuda in 2017.

“There’s certain things I can do, racing wise, where I haven’t loaded it as much and got away with it,” Spithill said. “But it’s got to the point now where the surgeons have said ‘we have tried everything and as hard as it will be, you’ve got to stop now and get this fixed because long term you don’t want to risk 2017’.

“I struggle to sit still, and so I was hoping that were would be an option, non-surgically, to fix this issue I’ve had for a long time now.

“I’ve tried all sorts of things — physio and rehab. Unfortunately for me I may go crazy.

“But I’m going to have to do this and we have booked it for the middle of February.

“We will do the surgery in the United States and then I will have eight to ten weeks out, which will be tough.”

During his recovery period from surgery, Spithill plans to work closely behind the scenes with Oracle’s designers and engineers who have been tasked with building the American syndicate’s fleet of wing sail AC45 and AC62 foiling catamarans.

“Mentally it [the recovery period] is going to be tough,” he said. “But it’s a great opportunity to catch up with some other stuff with our design team and engineering teams and get more involved there.

“[I’ll] use it as an opportunity to learn something else and try and keep progressing.”

Spithill will head straight for surgery once Oracle complete running tests on their AC45 at the team’s present headquarters in San Francisco.

The AC45 was used in the previous America’s Cup World Series but have since been modified to fully foil like their larger cousins, the AC72 and AC62.

“The 45s are really like a scaled down model, and it was a natural step to get them foiling,” said Spithill, who is a past winner of the King Edward VII Gold Cup winner.

“When people see the boats we are training and racing with, they will think they are some sort of spacecraft. These boats literally fly.

“They are doing two to three times the wind speed and we are going faster than cars on the roads here. I think people will be blown away.”