"Because of the G-forces, it's like standing on the roof of the car while it's turning," Spithill said.

But he and the rest of his Oracle crew were obviously prepared. Spithill, who describes his position with Oracle as "not a day job, it's an obsession," took flying lessons back "on a little air strip" near Sydney to better understand the aerodynamics of the new wing of his boat. He and his crew members trained with Navy Seals to understand how to "work while you're exhausted."

Recalling the days when those he sailed with looked more like, well, sailors, Jobson said that the members of Spithill's crew look "like linebackers getting off the boat."

If there is anyone Spithill credits the most for the success he has found in sailing, it's an old boxing coach who taught a scrawny kid with bright red hair how to fight instead of being bullied. It gave Spithill something to focus on "when things weren't going well at home," and eventually it helped Spithill take the same approach to sailing.

What also inspired Spithill was living on the same street with two members of the Australia II team that captured the America's Cup in 1983. Spithill has often told the story of his parents coming back to their home in a beach community on the outskirts of Sydney after a night of celebrating Australia II's win.

But the biggest motivation might have come from losing.

Spithill said that being part of two losing America's Cup crews has made him appreciate what Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker is going through. Recognizing the often not-so-friendly rivalry between Australia and New Zealand, Spithill joked that "I'm probably Public Enemy No. 1 right now" in New Zealand.

With Australia planning on competing in the next America's Cup, Spithill knows that some might think he will jump ship and return home. That seems unlikely with the handsome salary he is being paid by Oracle's billionaire owner Larry Ellison and the fact that he and his American-born wife and their two young boys are settled in Southern California.

Spithill doesn't plan on going after Olympic gold in Brazil regardless if bigger boats are added to the competition.

"I think when you do too many things, you do nothing well," he said.

don.markus@baltsun.com