Former student of both the Boys’ School and the College, Joe has been involved in sailing since a young age. One of his earliest memories is sailing Optimist dinghies off Kohimarama Beach and by the age of nine or ten he was racing comppetitively and has not stopped since.
His mother, Robyn Spooner, was Head of Art at the Boys’ School for many years and always took an active interest in the School sailing teams.
Since 2001, Joe has often raced with the Alfa Romeo maxi program, winning the Fastnet Race three times and the Rolex Maxi Worlds in 2006. He was also with Alfa Romeo for victories in the Middle Sea Race in 2003 and 2004, and he was a reserve for New Zealand in the Finn class for the 1996 Olympic Games.
It was on his third try that Joe was part of a winning America’s Cup team, racing with BMW Oracle Racing in 2010. Previously, he had sailed with Team New Zealand in 2003 and BMW Oracle Racing in 2007.
The introduction of the wingsail, double hulled catamarans for the 2013 America’s Cup changed the role of the grinders; a role Joe mastered in a foiling AC72 gybe for Oracle Team USA. Joe trained in the gym every day which included a lot of cross fit type activities that made it similar to being on the boat. As his job as grinder, some days saw him burning a total of 4,000 calories and getting his heart rate up to a maximum of 95%. He said, ‘We’re not really used to running. Sailors aren’t generally runners! In the old boats, the grinders would have their feet planted in one place. You might change from one side of the mono-hull to the other but it’s not like you’re not running around, holding on for dear life in the middle of a maneuver. It’s good fun. During the gybes, I cross the boat forward of the wingsail. It’s kind of like preparing for a turn, while standing on a flatbed truck that’s going at 50 mph on a gravel road. You know there’s going to be a corner somewhere, but you’ve got your head down and you honestly have no idea where that turn is going to be!’