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Inside the mind of America's Cup winning skipper Jimmy Spithill

Courtesy of America's Cup

The America's Cup competition drew some of the world's fastest sailboats to the San Francisco Bay Area. The races for the oldest international sporting trophy were fast: catamarans reached speeds of nearly 50 knots, or 50 miles per hour. And they pushed some of the most skilled sailors on earth to their limits. Jimmy Spithill is one of them. He pitch-poled one of Oracle Team USA's boats during practice, crashing it in the Bay. With that memory fresh in his head, he led his team against Emirates Team New Zealand in the America's Cup finals. Over the course of a best-of-17 race series, Spithill led his team to a come-from-behind victory, leading many observers to call the event "the greatest sporting comeback in history." In this interview conducted at Oracle team headquarters at San Francisco's Pier 80, Spithill shares what he was thinking throughout the event, and gives insight into the experiences that have shaped him as a sailor.

"Offshore sailing is kind of like mountain climbing. When you're out there, and you get into that kind of situation, no-one can really get out there and save you ... It was 80 knots of wind, 100 foot waves, breaking, a lot of them, and you couldn't see land. It was surreal ... I thought if it kept getting any worse, I didn't know how we were going to get through it. It just kept ramping up and ramping up, and at some point you're just looking around going, "Man, if one of these waves breaks on us, and they've just got our number, then there's nothing we can do about it."

Click the audio player above to listen to the interview



Ben was hired as Interim Executive Director of KALW in November, 2021.