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Spithill shares words of wisdom with youngsters

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What to do when school is out: TN Tatem students got to hang with sailing royalty in Jimmy Spithill, the skipper of Oracle Team USA, coinciding with the teachers sick-out that resulted in there being no classes on Monday. Spithill led the lightning bolt movement made famous by Usain Bolt, while some of the students preferred the more topical dab (Photograph supplied)

The students of TN Tatem Middle School had a celebrity in their midst on Monday morning when Jimmy Spithill, the Oracle Team USA skipper, addressed a school assembly.

It was the first of eight visits the team will make as they cover each of the public schools on the island.

TN Tatem has recently taken part in the America’s Cup Endeavour programme with more than 130 middle school students learning about the Steam curriculum subjects of science, technology, engineering, art and maths in the context of sailing, and taking to the waters of the Great Sound to put theory into practice.

The students also have sessions on health, physical education and nutrition from Oracle Team USA experts.

“The America’s Cup Endeavour programme is all about education and experience,” Spithill said. “Now, being able to go around and check in with the schools in Bermuda, talk to them about the America’s Cup and our personal experiences and lessons learnt as we developed as athletes and people, is a great opportunity for us.”

Spithill, who grew up on an island outside Sydney, told the students about some of the lessons he learnt on the way to becoming the youngest skipper in history to win the America’s Cup.

“First of all, don’t let anyone tell you can’t do anything,” he said. “Dream big. For me, the America’s Cup was my dream, but whatever your dream is, believe that you can do it.

“Secondly, there’s no short cut. It’s going to take a lot of hard work to achieve your goal. Whether it’s in sport, or in life, working hard and being prepared sets you up for success. You’ve all experienced that already.

“The test that you studied hardest for, or the sport where you practised more before the big game, those were the ones where you were more successful.”

Spithill went on to speak about the importance of teamwork, pointing out that Oracle Team USA has more than 80 people on their team, only six of whom will sail in a race. The support from the rest of the team is a critical factor to the success of the team. He urged the students to work together to achieve their goals.

For the second consecutive school year, Oracle Team USA will visit all eight public middle schools on the island, speaking at their assemblies. The team also host America’s Cup Endeavour students at its base every Friday morning, teaching the students about health, physical fitness and nutrition.

Last week, Oracle Team USA completed a handover of a second batch of 15 refurbished Optimist dinghies at the Sandys Boat Club. In total, the team have now brought 30 Optimist dinghies, rescued from the scrapheap in various states of disrepair, up to “better than new” condition, and donated them to local programmes in support of youth sailing and education.

“We’re so appreciative of the welcome we’ve had since we’ve moved to Bermuda,” Spithill said.

“For us, this is our way to give back by contributing to youth education and sailing programmes alongside America’s Cup Endeavour.”

Jimmy Spithill takes his place among the students during assembly at TN Tatem Middle School (Photograph supplied)
Jimmy Spithill speaks to TN Tatem Middle School students (Photograph supplied)
When the teachers are away: TN Tatem Middle School students engage with Jimmy Spithill, skipper of Oracle Team USA, on Monday when the teaxchers staged a sick-out (Photograph supplied)
Parting glance: Jimmy Spithill with some students at TN Tatem Middle School near the end of his visit (Photograph supplied)