Ashby rides wave of success in America's Cup campaign

TIME TO REFLECT: Yachting champion Glenn Ashby played a key role in the latest showdown for the America's Cup. Picture: BILL CONROY
TIME TO REFLECT: Yachting champion Glenn Ashby played a key role in the latest showdown for the America's Cup. Picture: BILL CONROY

ALTHOUGH Australia has not won the America’s Cup since 1983, Australian sailors have helped international syndicates win one of the world’s greatest contests.Among those Australians is Glenn Ashby, a Bendigo boy at heart, who has now conquered sailing’s greatest challenge.Ashby, who first began his sailing career at Bendigo Yacht Club, can now add winning the America’s Cup, with the US-based crew on Oracle to his list of achievements.The 2008 Olympic Tornado multi-hull class silver medallist was employed as the head coach of the Oracle sailing team, after Oracle’s James Spithill suggested he take up the position with the American team. “One of the Australian guys was actually steering the boat, James Spithill, and he got me to go and do some coaching when they found out that the 33rd America’s Cup was going to be held in multi-hulls,’’ Ashby said.“I was involved in the Olympic campaign at the time but after that, they stayed in touch and wanted me to do more and more, and wanted me to come and join the team on more of a full-time basis for the next America’s Cup.''According to Ashby, it was a hard slog for the team members of Oracle, who all worked tirelessly for up to 18 months in preparation for the 33rd America’s Cup.“They say it’s the most difficult sporting trophy to win in the world, it’s a 159-year-old trophy which incorporates time and effort and, of course, money.“The budget for the year is in multi-millions of dollars, and could only be compared to something like a Formula One team would go through in a year,’’ he said.“There are roughly 200 people on the team at any one time and it’s a full team effort to win the event.“Everyone on the team is working 10, 12 or 15 hours a day to get the results.’’Although team Oracle was American based, the team featured more international members, including Australians and New Zealanders, and has sparked Ashby’s interest in one day competing in an Australian team. “I’d love to, and I’m sure a lot of the Australian guys would love to be involved in an Australian syndicate for an America’s Cup in the future.“It’s an extremely costly exercise and the corporate side of things plays a bit part in that.“It is almost an unreal sporting event in that sense, in that it is so difficult to actually compete.’’ Ashby is a dual winner of The Advertiser Sports Star of the Year award, which is supported by WIN Television and MECU Credit Union.Although the 2012 London Olympic Games will not feature Tornado multi-hulls, Ashby will soon decide whether he will aim to compete in the Games in another event.“I’m having a really good think about the Olympics, and obviously the Tornado multi-hulls is not in for London, but the opportunity I may take on is to sail as a windsurfer and RSX sailboarder,’’ he said.“Sailboarding is the kind of a sport where you need to be as fit as the fittest triathlete in the Olympic Games, so it’s a full cardiovascular side of sailing, so I’ll need to make my decision quite quickly so I can get into it.’’