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Spithill to miss Newport Bermuda Race

Jimmy Spithill, the Oracle Team USA skipper, will not be involved in Comanche's record attempt in this month's Newport Bermuda Race.

The 100-foot supermaxi, co-owned by American billionaire Jim Clark and former Australian supermodel Kristy Hinze-Clark, is attempting to break the elapsed time record of 39hr 39min set by George David's Rambler in 2012.

Spithill was among Comanche's crew that won the prestigious Sydney Hobart Race in January but is unable to take part in the boat's upcoming record bid because of Oracle's preparations for their America's Cup defence in the Great Sound next year.

“I wish I could go with the guys, but we (Oracle) are busy here training,” Spithill, the youngest skipper to win the “Auld Mug”, said.

Jim Clark is looking forward to competing in the 50th edition of the 645-mile Newport Bermuda Race in the Open Division.

“Every time Comanche hits the starting line the goal is the same, first to finish because that is what we can control,” he said.

“As for a new race record, that is in the hands of the wind gods. Give us the right breeze and the record will take care of itself.”

Comanche became the first American winner of the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in nearly two decades after overcoming a damaged daggerboard and steering system to seize line honours in this year's blue water classic in an elapsed time of two days, eight hours, 58 minutes and 30 seconds.

The multimillion dollar supermaxi was designed by Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp and built at Hodgdon Yachts in Maine, New England, and can reach a top speed of 40 miles per hour.

“The boat itself is an absolute weapon, especially if you can ease the sheets and start reaching and going down wind,” Spithill said. “With the right conditions it could smash the race record.”

The 50th edition of the Newport Bermuda Race could potentially be the third-largest race in the event's 110-year history, with 192 boats competing in six different divisions, expected on the start line in Narragansett Bay on June 17.

As of May 31, 112 boats were entered in the St David's Lighthouse Division for racer-cruiser yachts, 43 in the Cruiser Division, 19 in the Double-Handed Division and seven in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division.

The Open Division had four entries along with 11 Gibbs Hill and St David's boats whose owners have decided to race in both the Open Division and in one of the two Lighthouse Division for two prizes.

The fleet's diversity is enhanced by the Spirit of Tradition Division, whose four entries include local entry Spirit of Bermuda that will compete against “America”, a replica of the yacht that inspired the America's Cup.

“The Newport Bermuda Race continues to attract monohull yachts from mostly amateur cruisers to professionally crewed racers with a variety of rigs, designs, hailing ports, and vintages,” AJ Evans, the race chairman, said.

Paul Hubbard's Oyster 435, Bermuda Oyster, and Brian Hillier's J-125, Crossfire, are the remaining Bermuda entries and are both registered in the St David's Lighthouse Division.

This year's Newport Bermuda Race also marks the 90th anniversary of the partnership between organisers Cruising Club of America and Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.

• America's Cup racing is heading to Asia for the first time in the 165-year history of this iconic event.

The Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series is scheduled to bring exciting, fast, unpredictable America's Cup racing to Fukuoka, the fifth largest city in Japan, from November 18 to 20.

“This is an incredible opportunity to showcase this compelling sport to new audiences, not only in Japan but across all of Asia,” said Russell Coutts, the chief executive officer of the 35th America's Cup.

“With the challenge from SoftBank Team Japan marking the return of Japan to the America's Cup, enthusiasm is building for the sport in Asia.

“The new, foiling, flying AC45 catamarans produce exciting, exhilarating racing and show our sport at its best. This is what we are bringing to Fukuoka.”

SoftBank Team Japan is the fourth Japanese challenge for the America's Cup, and the first since 1999.

The Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series is a global circuit of events building towards the America's Cup in Bermuda in 2017.

In 2016, the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series includes stops in Muscat, Oman; New York and Chicago, United States; Portsmouth, England; Toulon, France; and Fukuoka, Japan.

Photograph by Daniel Forster Absolute machine: Comanche is the largest boat in the five regular divisions of the Newport Bermuda Race

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Published June 02, 2016 at 1:03 am (Updated June 02, 2016 at 12:51 pm)

Spithill to miss Newport Bermuda Race

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