The United States Sailboat Show was held this past weekend in downtown Annapolis. Among the many exhibits, events, and seminars, one of the most noteworthy was the public appearance of America's Cup skipper Jimmy Spithill.
According to Wikipedia, "The America's Cup, affectionately known as the "Auld Mug", is a trophy awarded to the winner of the America's Cup match races between two sailing yachts. One yacht, known as the defender, represents the yacht club that currently holds the America's Cup and the second yacht, known as the challenger, represents the yacht club that is challenging for the cup. The timing of each match is determined by an agreement between the defender and the challenger. The America's Cup is the oldest international sporting trophy."
Just last month, Spithill's "Oracle Team USA" AC72 Catamaran defeated Emirates Team New Zealand, Aotearoa, 9 races to 8, after being down 8 races to one. The Oracle team had to overcome a two point deficit from the get go, after being penalized for apparent cheating in the races prior to the actual cup series.
Spithill successfully defended the cup in dramatic fashion, against the odds and in the process became one of sailings most recognizable ambassadors.
In Annapolis, on the first day of the United States Sailboat Show, during a "Launch" party, Spithill wowed the crowd with a public appearance.
According to an article at http://www.tradeonlytoday.com, "Greeted with a standing ovation, the Cup’s youngest helmsman offered his thanks and compliments to a crowd of exhibitors and VIPs. “I’ve enjoyed the show — getting to meet fans and people in the sailing industry but, more importantly, people not from a boating background because, lucky for us, they soon will be,” said Spithill, who is 34.
Attendees acknowledged that the latest America’s Cup did much to enhance the sport of sailing and brought the event to a broad fan base. Lauding boss Larry Ellison, Spithill said the success of the event had “silenced the critics,” adding, “There’s no turning back.”
With his new found celebrity, Spithill has been enjoying traveling the nation and appearing on television with the likes of Jay Leno and Stephen Colbert. He says its not really just about him, but the team that was sailing with him.
"“It’s somewhat of an irony,” he said. “You’re the figurehead, but it’s really about the team. If there ever was a sport where you needed every single member of a team in the game — and not just on the boat but on shore, too — this is it.”