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Saturday, May 20, 2017
The Americas Cup Tales of Two Sides

They're the odd couple of the America's Cup, fierce foes who have turned into firm friends.

Opposites attract and after a cup rivalry that dates back to 2003 but reached epic proportions in 2013, Jimmy Spithill and Dean Barker now find themselves in a de facto relationship.

"Pitbull" Spithill and Barker, more like your friendly labrador whose bark might be worse than his bite.

However the discussion arose this week following an incident on day two of the final week of practice racing which saw the final race of the day, between Land Rover BAR and Emirates Team New Zealand, abandoned following a collision between the two boats in the pre-start, which resulted in both teams sustaining damage to their hulls.

The incident, which resulted in Emirates Team New Zealand sitting out the action on Wednesday saw Land Rover BAR skipper Sir Ben Ainslie come under fire from his Kiwi counterparts.

“It was a bit of a shame in the last pre-start. We had the leeward end of the line pretty locked down, Ben was quite late and just ran straight into the back of us,” said Emirates Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling.

“Just unnecessary, a week out from the America’s Cup. We are all here to learn and it’s a shame we have a pretty big dent now in the back of our nice boat.

However, speaking on Thursday, Land Rover BAR Sailing Team Manager and grinder Jono Macbeth, a three-times America’s Cup winner, including with Oracle Team USA in 2013, was quick to pour cold water on the incident, putting it down to the teams pushing the limits.

“I don’t think it’s aggression that necessarily is the best description of what we’re seeing out there on the race course at the moment,” said the New Zealand native.

“I think what we’ve got here is a collective group of the best crews in the world, who are all incredibly competitive people and when you stick them on a racecourse they’re all there to win.

“I think what you always have is people pushing the limits, whether in the pre-start or out on the racecourse. It’s going to be what you have to do sometimes to try and win.

“It’s going to be exciting and that is why people want to watch it!”

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