Spithill hails America's Cup rival Burling

·2-min read

(Reuters) - Australian yachtsman Jimmy Spithill has hailed Team New Zealand skipper Peter Burling as "the best in the world" as the two prepare to face off in the opening America's Cup races in Auckland on Wednesday.

Spithill, a two-time winner of the Auld Mug as skipper of Team Oracle, is co-helmsman for challengers Luna Rossa in the 36th edition of the America's Cup, which had been due to start this weekend.

Coronavirus restrictions have delayed the start until next week, and Spithill was not underestimating the task that lies ahead of the Italian team.

"Burling is the best in the world, without a doubt," Spithill told New Zealand's Newstalk ZB radio.

"I've got a huge amount of respect for them ... they are good mates of mine, an incredible team.

"We are going up against the world's best but that's what we live for. If it was easy it wouldn't be worth doing.

"Both teams are fully set to go - it really can't come soon enough."

Luna Rossa, skippered by Max Sirena, qualified for the America's Cup match with a comprehensive 7-1 victory over Team Ineos in the Prada Cup last month.

Team New Zealand go in as favourites but Spithill believes Luna Rossa's need to qualify will cancel out any advantage the holders gained watching their Prada Cup performances.

"They would have more data on us just from watching the broadcasts ... you can hear what is happening on board so they have that up their sleeve," Spithill added.

"But we've had real racing, that's the difference. It's a double-edged sword. We've had sudden death, real pressure ... they've had to train on their own."

(Reporting by Michael Church; editing by Richard Pullin)