“When you get an offer from Ben Ainslie and Grant Simmer to join their team, anyone in the yachting world would be mad to pass that up. They didn’t have to say very much to me at all, it was a yes straight away.”
- Who inspired you to start sailing? My Dad
- First boat? Wooden sabot
- First sailing club? KBSC (Keppel Bay Sailing Club, Yeppoon, QLD , Australia)
- When did you know you wanted sailing to be a career rather than a hobby? I never really had a defining moment, I still don’t really think of what I do as a job!
- What do you love most about sailing? Competition
- What has sailing taught you? Patience
- Favourite ever sailing race? The first race of the 2010 33rd America’s Cup in the huge trimaran followed by the 2001 Jubilee Round the Island Race in Cowes, UK.
- How do you keep going when you're on the limit? By knowing I have the support of my teammates
- Career highlight? Winning the 34th America’s Cup in 2013 after being 8-1 down, we came back to win 9-8!
- If you weren't a sailor, what would you be? No idea!
- Best advice? I had a coach very early on that said to always try to keep the same mood on board, whether you are losing or winning, I still try to do that
- What other sports do you play now? I like surfing, but most of my spare time is devoted to my two kids, Jamie and Ruby.
- Funniest team-mate? Freddie Carr or Grant Simmer, it’s a close one.
Two consecutive Cup wins in 2010 and 2013, along with six other campaigns spanning 20 years, makes new recruit Joey Newton one of the most experienced Cup sailors at INEOS Team UK. The 36th America’s Cup will be his seventh challenge, reuniting Joey with teammates from the winning Oracle Team USA campaigns; Ben Ainslie (Team Principal and Skipper), Grant Simmer (CEO) and Jono Macbeth (Sailing Team Manager). “It’s very addictive and that’s what keeps people coming back. When you’ve won it once there’s no real turning back from that and you just want to keep winning and being a part of it.”
Joey grew up in Queensland, in the north-east of Australia. His father is a Brit who emigrated to Australia when he was young and his mother Australian. His introduction to the America’s Cup came courtesy of his Dad.
“I was five when Australia II won the America’s Cup, it was 1983 and I remember getting woken up by my Dad and plonked in front of the TV for the final race with him saying ‘you should really watch this, this could be important!’. The Cup was held in Newport, Rhode Island so it was around five am in the morning our time. It was a really big moment for Australia and I remember thinking it was really special.
“It was around the same sort of time when I first started sailing. We lived inland but my parents had a little sailing boat - a trailer sailor - and we used to go out on the Fairbairn Dam which is a big reservoir in central Queensland. We just started cruising and then we moved to the coast and joined a family friendly Sailing Club. I started racing wooden sabots, which was the junior class in Australia at the time.”
There was no stopping Joey from that point. A stint in the double-handed 420 class followed and then the Laser dinghy, which led to racing on the junior match racing circuit. It was in 1999 -- when in his early twenties -- that his America’s Cup career started with Syd Fischer’s youth-oriented America’s Cup team, Young Australia.
The team was set up for the 2000 event in Auckland, New Zealand and the crew was led by Jimmy Spithill, who became firm friends and team-mates on a number of campaigns. Young Australia raced with two old boats, Sydney '95 (AUS-29) and One Australia (AUS-31) so they weren’t competitive against the new designs, but it launched some of the country’s top sailing talent. “There was a trial period with hundreds of young sailors under 21 and you went through a process of elimination, at the end I think there were around 17 or 18 sailors who went through.”
Joey, Jimmy Spithill and two other Young Australia team members, Ben Durham and Andy Fethers, were then picked up by America’s OneWorld Challenge. The team raced in the 2003 Louis Vuitton Cup, once again in Auckland. After that it was a move across the Atlantic to Europe to join Italian Challenge, Luna Rossa, for their 2007 Cup campaign in Valencia.
It was three more years until in 2010 Joey won his first America’s Cup, flying the American flag with Oracle Team USA. Russell Coutts had just taken over as CEO of the team and led them into the Deed of Gift Challenge, with OTUSA racing in a monster 34m trimaran, USA-17. Joey stayed with Larry Ellison’s American team for two further Cups; AC34 in 2013 in San Francisco and AC35 in 2017 in Bermuda, coming away with a second Cup victory in 2013.
Great Britain will be the fourth nation Joey’s raced for and he brings a refreshing mix of enthusiasm and experience along with a determination to win. “When you get an offer from Ben Ainslie and Grant Simmer to join their team, anyone in the yachting world would be mad to pass that up. They didn’t have to say very much to me at all, it was a yes straight away. I’ve got an English passport through my father and this team really feels like a natural fit for me.”
“Winning is addictive and honestly that’s what the America’s Cup’s about for me. I want to win again and this time with a British team.”
Alongside the Cup he’s raced in the annual Sydney-Hobart Race, the Fastnet and Cowes Week regattas. Engineering has always been an interest and he’s had experience with some sail making companies at different stages of his career, but sailing was the passion and the path he pursued. “It’s been pretty consuming, not just for me but my wife and children. I’ve been full time within the America’s Cup for 20 years now, it’s essentially all I’ve done.”
Throughout his career he has seen and experienced some of the biggest transitions of the Cup and the AC75 excites him. “Over the past few years – with the hard-winged mainsail - there hasn’t been as much of a role for developing sails but that’s changed for this forthcoming edition. The sail rules are much more open and my major role with the team will be the sail programme and helping to develop fast sails for the boat. Onboard I will be responsible for trimming the sails.”
“I like the AC75 concept. It’s complicated and like any concept there’s pros and cons to it but I think the boat itself is fantastic. The advantage of winning the America’s Cup is the winner gets to choose what the next class is going to be and Emirates Team New Zealand together with the Challenger of Record Luna Rossa, have chosen what they think is going to be the best fit for the AC36.
“The development of the boats is probably my favourite thing about a Cup campaign. You are training and racing on the boats so much you can get a little desensitised to actually how fast they are but it’s certainly not hard to stay motivated when you are sailing in the fastest boats that have ever been built and it’s always a bit of a rush when you start going fast - anything above 40 knots you certainly know you are alive! It’s so different from the normal yachting I started out in.”
Along with the changes in the boat design, fitness is one of the biggest transitions in the sport. “When we first started in the monohulls you would probably say for half the crew fitness wasn’t really a big part of it but that’s changed a lot now. Certainly during the last Cup all the teams brought in another level of professionalism on the fitness side of things, so it’s been a pretty big change for the guys like me who have been through quite a few different cycles.
“I always seem to be on a roller-coaster of weight gain and weight loss and what usually happens in most cycles I’ve been involved with is the smaller / lighter guys - like me - get told to put on more and more weight, then as you get towards the business end the bigger guys - the grinders - need more and more weight so the guys like me will be asked to lose some. It depends on the class but it’s a real balance, you also have to work with what the other sailor’s requirements are on the boat. It’s a real team effort to win the America’s Cup, there’s many elements to it. You have to have the fittest sailors along with the fastest boat and all the different parts have to work together.
“INEOS TEAM UK have the funding in place, the right people are here and of all the team’s I’ve been involved with this one feels like the most likely to win at this stage.”