James Spithill

OneWorld's golden boy is now proving top dog on the European match racing circuit
James Spithill is a remarkable individual. On the water since the age of five he comes from a sailing family - his sister Katie is currently Australia's most successful women's match racer. He is a product of the youth training program run by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club in Sydney that saw him twice become World Youth Match Racing Champion. Then following a fortuitous meeting with Australian AC veteran Syd Fischer he took the helm of his first America's Cup Class yacht at the tender age of just 19. "I just sort of met him at some sporting or yachting awards," says Spithill of his first encounter with Fischer. "I won the junior award and Syd or his team had won some ocean racing thing. I went up to him and said ‘hey look, I’d love to do a bit of ocean racing’ and he said ‘look, come out any time’. So I went out and ended up steering that day and we won and our relationship just sort of built. And then I ended up working for him and running Young Australia so it was just a good opportunity." Aged 21 Spithill found himself racing in the Louis Vuitton Challenger series - the youngest skipper ever to do so - and he made enough of an impression to be subsequently asked to become sparring partner for Paul Cayard. He was subsequently signed up by Peter Gilmour to join OneWorld. In the last America's Cup, OneWorld went into the challenger series as favourites alongside Alinghi, but were subsequently knocked out in the semi-finals by Oracle. "I think ourselves, Oracle and Alinghi were the most similar with our boats and the way we set up our teams," says Spithill, looking back at the Cup. "But I guess the thing which hurt