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Spithill thrilled by ‘incredible boat’

Jimmy Spithill, the skipper of Oracle Team USA, is extremely encouraged by the outcome of tests conducted on the team's wing sail AC45 catamaran in San Francisco Bay last month.

During the two-week foiling, flying exercise, Oracle's modified AC45, a prototype for the team's AC62, to be used in their defence of the America's Cup in Bermuda in June 2017, was clocked in excess of 45 knots in under 22 knots of breezes.

“It's an incredible boat and it's going to be an important tool for us going forward,” Spithill, the youngest skipper to win the America's Cup, told The Royal Gazette. “It was pretty impressive.”

Spithill, the 2014 Rolex ISAF Sailor of the Year, past world match race champion and King Edward VII Gold Cup winner had limited action in Oracle's AC45 before undergoing elbow surgery in Los Angeles.

The 35-year-old is in a race against the clock to regain fitness in time for the start of the America's Cup World Series. It remains to be seen whether he will make a full recovery to helm Oracle's foiling AC45 catamaran in the series opener in Sardinia, Italy, in June.

“I was only on the water for a couple of days before I went in for the surgery, but on the second day we were already foil gybing and pulling off these manoeuvres that took us weeks or months to learn in the AC72,” said Spithill, who has returned to his native Australia for physiotherapy.

Spithill's sentiments were echoed by his team-mates. “The thing is nearly as quick as the AC72,” Joe Newton, Oracle's wing sail caddie, said.

Trimmer Rome Kirby, added: “There are some pretty cool things going on that we weren't even close to doing last time.”

Following the tests, Oracle's AC45 made global headlines for all the wrong reasons after US Marshals arrested the souped-up catamaran in response to a lien filed by sailor Joe Spooner, whose contract with the American syndicate was terminated in January.

Spooner, who was a grinder with Oracle during its America's Cup victories in 2010 and 2013, is seeking at least $725,000 in unpaid wages and damages for alleged wrongful termination of his contract.

According to American Maritime law, a vessel can be held if a sailor is owed wages.

In admiralty law terms, the boat was arrested. The team deny any wrongdoing and remain optimistic that their AC45 will arrive in Bermuda by May as originally planned.

Photo courtesy of Oracle Team USA Sea monster: Oracle Team USA taking part in a workout in San Francisco Bay, sailing the C45 catamaran to test design ideas for AC62 to be used in the 2017 America's Cup in Bermuda

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Published March 19, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated March 19, 2015 at 1:03 am)

Spithill thrilled by ‘incredible boat’

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