June 27, 2017 / 7:37 PM / 2 years ago

Sixth America's Cup win may be last for New Zealand coach Jones

HAMILTON, Bermuda (Reuters) - New Zealand’s Murray Jones may be ready to call it a day on America’s Cup campaigns after scoring a sixth win in Bermuda as performance coach for Emirates Team New Zealand.

Murray, who is one of the most successful America’s Cup veterans, has previously worked on winning campaigns with Team New Zealand, Switzerland’s Alinghi and Oracle Team USA.

But it was with his native New Zealand that he first won international sport’s oldest trophy in 1995 on “Black Magic”.

“I don’t really intend doing another one, but we’ll see if I get bored and want to go again ... I’m sort of thinking this is my last,” Jones told Reuters on Tuesday at the New Zealand base in Bermuda, with the glittering silver trophy behind him.

Jones, who competed in four Olympics for New Zealand, said an America’s Cup campaign was “a massive time commitment” and he would have to decide if he was ready to make that.

The 59-year-old, who was inducted into the “America’s Cup Hall of Fame” in 2010, was “talked into” joining New Zealand’s Bermuda campaign by skipper and sailing director Glenn Ashby only six or seven months before the cup started.

This was a typically bold move by Ashby as Jones was part of the Oracle Team USA team which inflicted one of the most painful sporting defeats on New Zealand, overturning an 8-1 Kiwi lead and going on to win 9-8 in San Francisco in 2013.

Reflecting on what had changed in the years since he first lifted the most coveted prize in sailing, Jones said the biggest transformation was in the type of boats and the “really” complex systems now involved in their electronics and hydraulics.

“These type of boats really lend themselves for younger sailors who are really quick thinking ... which I think is a good thing for the cup,” he said of the 50-foot (15 metre) foiling catamaran in which Peter Burling on Monday became the youngest-ever America’s Cup-winning helmsman at the age of just 26.

And despite some of the acrimony which has surrounded previous America’s Cup teams, with legal battles between their billionaire backers, Jones said the spirit is still of friendly competition between the sailors themselves.

“One side wins and one side loses, but you are still going to have a drink together at the end,” Jones said, adding that the whole Oracle Team USA team had joined the Kiwis at their base after their final race on Monday.

Jones put the victory down to a “very open minded” design and sailing team who were not afraid to “be bold” and stick to their own program rather than being distracted by others.

“In the end we weren’t that much faster than Oracle, but we had developed other systems on our boat that made it easier to race or do maneuvers that they couldn’t and that was significant in the end,” Jones added.

Editing by Toby Davis

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