Foiling to Bermuda

Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill and Team Falcon tackle the ultimate foiling challenge, sailing offshore from New York to Bermuda.

November 15, 2016
team falcon
The Team Falcon F4 sails in Newport for a test flight before their voyage south. Matt Knighton/Red Bull

Jimmy Spithill has revealed the extraordinary lengths him and his crew went through to sail their “F4” Team Falcon catamaran over 1,065km of open ocean.

The ORACLE Team USA skipper had to wait patiently for the green light with the ocean quest postponed several times by a hurricane and gale force winds.

The weather relented on November 5 so Spithill and his team of Shannon Falcone, who dreamt up the challenge, Rome Kirby, Tommy Loughborough, Cy Thompson and Bermuda’s own Emily Nagel could set out from New York.


Unfortunately for them, the conditions soon turned nasty and they had to fight tooth and nail to combat massive 25 foot waves and phenomenal 35-knot winds.

Luckily the eight months spent engineering the first ever 46-foot hydro-foiling catamaran ensured that they could hover a few feet over the dangerous swells.

They eventually managed to complete the journey from New York, the first U.S. city to host the America’s Cup in 1870, to Bermuda, where the 35th America’s Cup will be held in the summer of 2017, in 66 hours.


Australian Spithill revealed, “We went from pushing the boat for performance into survival mode.

“These were the biggest waves I’ve faced in a multi-hull and hopefully don’t ever have to experience again!

“At night we didn’t have a moon. Some of the waves were breaking, which made it very challenging and extremely dangerous, and we had a few close calls.


“I wanted to push myself mentally and physically further than I’ve ever gone before because the America’s Cup next year will be tougher and harder-fought and more unpredictable than anything I have ever experienced.

“When the stress and fatigue levels climb so high and you need to make the right calls as a skipper, that is when you push yourself and your development.

“I love taking on Mother Nature. You have to be ready for anything. Mother Nature can turn and, when she does, it can be awesome as well as terrifying.”


Falcone added, “In 72 hours, we experienced more than a lot of sailors experience in their whole career. I was so impressed with Emily, and the entire team bonded because of the challenges and adversities.”

Finally Nagel declared, “I couldn’t quite believe I was on a boat with the ORACLE Team USA guys and Shannon. The learning curve with that kind of experience is just incredible.”

More information about Flying on Water here.


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