America’s Cup 2021: Luna Rossa co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill’s surprising Peter Burling claim ahead of Team New Zealand clash

Luna Rossa co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill believes Team New Zealand skipper Peter Burling is “the best in the world” as the two prepare to face off in the America’s Cup match.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking, the Australian two-time winner of the Auld Mug spoke about his highly anticipated battle against the defenders.

Covid-19 restrictions in Auckland has delayed the start of the America’s Cup match until at least Wednesday, having previously been scheduled for this weekend.

Spithill, who alongside co-helmsman Francesco Bruni steered the Italians to a convincing Prada Cup victory, said he isn’t underestimating the task ahead against the Kiwis.

“Burling is the best in the world, without a doubt,” Spithill said.

“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.”

Spithill’s lavish praise came after his co-pilot Bruni called Burling a “crazy talent” but appeared to question his lack of experience.

However, Spithill said Bruni’s comments were taken out of context and that New Zealand journalists could sometimes miss some Italian language nuances.

“Burling is a crazy talent, he has won everything. He is young, but I hope he lacks the experience that Jimmy and I have instead. We have been sailing for many years, having done more races than can be counted,” Bruni told Italian yachting site Vela.

The 47-year-old also brushed off delays to the start of the racing.

“It doesn’t change much, it’s just four more days after three years of work,” Bruni said.

“We are working on new sails that have arrived from Italy. The guys in the sail loft are very busy.

“There are also the foils … no revolution, only small improvements.

“That’s also what’s happening with the aerodynamics, small improvements because changing a lot a few days before the final can be risky.”

The Government will make an announcement on whether Auckland’s lockdown will be lifted today at 4pm.

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