Coutts back on board
With the penultimate event in the 2011-12 America’s Cup World Series set to begin in one week in Venice, Italy, skipper Jimmy Spithill has rotated the crew that moved into the overall lead at the previous event while team CEO Russell Coutts returns to the fray racing aboard Darren Bundock’s AC45.
Both the Spithill and Bundock crews will race the America’s Cup World Series-Venice, scheduled May 17-20, under the team’s new colors: Oracle Team USA .
The crew changes came about due to scheduling conflicts and the desire to give more sailors time on the physically demanding AC45’s. Coutts fills in for Tom Slingsby, who’s in the midst of an Olympic Laser campaign.
“With Tom now totally focused on the London Olympics, changes were always on the cards for the fifth and sixth rounds of the ACWS,” said Spithill. “As a team we have two simultaneous objectives: We want both crews on the podium when the ACWS season concludes and, with just 15 months remaining until we go out on San Francisco Bay and fight to retain the America’s Cup, we need to rotate our squad in the extreme race competition the World Series provides."
Also joining the line-up in Venice is the 2010 America’s Cup-winning bowman Brad Webb, one of the longest-tenured team members. Webb will make his World Series debut in Venice in place of Piet van Nieuwenhuijzen. And the two crews will swap wing trimmers: Dirk de Ridder jumping to Bundock’s crew and Kyle Langford joining Spithill’s.
“The AC World Series is the ideal proving ground for developing crew communications in the heat of competition,” added Spithill.
Bundock welcomes the chance to race with Coutts. “Russell brings a lot of experience in a tactical role,” he said.
Oracle Team USA Spithill grabbed the overall lead in Naples last month by placing second in the nine-race series. That helped skipper Jimmy Spithill and his five-man crew leapfrog Emirates Team New Zealand into the top spot. Spithill now holds a 1 point lead in the overall standings while Oracle Team USA Bundock is placed fifth, 20 points behind Spithill.
Oracle Team USA Spithill – Jimmy Spithill (skipper/helmsman) John Kostecki (tactician), Kyle Langford (wingsail trimmer), Joe Newton (headsail trimmer), Brad Webb (bowman)
Oracle Team USA Bundock – Darren Bundock (skipper/helmsman), Russell Coutts (tactician), Dirk de Ridder (wingsail trimmer), Simon Daubney (headsail trimmer), Simeon Tienpont (bowman)