Kostecki on the Cup
Kostecki on the Cup
With the 34th America’s Cup match racing final less than two weeks away, the anticipation is palpable—who is faster? The well-seasoned Kiwis who have made so few mistakes in their conquest of the Louis Vuitton Cup, while also charming the pants off the sailing fans and spectators with their slick maneuvers and team spirit? Or will it be the Americans, who’ve had the good fortune of ample resources throughout their campaign, but who are now knee-deep in muck over allegations of cheating, which could cost them races and top crewmembers? It doesn’t seem to matter who you talk to, the answer’s the same: Race 1 will tell all.
We check in with John Kostecki, one of America’s most highly regarded sailors and the tactician for Oracle Team USA, to see what’s been going on at the Oracle camp:
What did the challenger racing reveal to you? What did you learn?
JK: ETNZ is impressive. They look really strong in their crew maneuvers. They seem to gain a lot there. We study those moves to try to learn and improve. We look at different helicopter shots and shots from on board; we study those as much as we can. Things that they’re doing well we want to learn why and try to apply that to our sailing.
What particularly impresses you?
JK: Their jibing and their tacking. As you’ve seen, you can gain hundreds of meters in one jibe. They're very consistent out there. Probably we still have a ways to go to catch up to them in that.
Do you really think so?
JK: Yeah, I think so. In some conditions our consistency isn’t quite as good as theirs at the moment. They’ve had the same group of sailors for a long time. We have a big group here. Just recently we’ve gone with more of a racing team and a back-up team, splitting that onto the two boats, so we’re still learning each day when we’re out together. That’s a little bit of a factor. I’m not saying we can’t get there, we still have up to seven more sailing days. Hopefully, we’ll do a few two-boat days also.
Why wouldn’t they all be two-boat days at this stage?
JK: Logistically, it’s really hard to sail, maintain, launch. It’s a major drain on the whole team to do that. Ideally, every day would be a two-boat day, but logistically it’s hard and tiring; resource-wise maintaining two boats is really hard. Maintaining one boat is really hard. We need to do it, but it’s hard.
Local knowledge is your expertise. Tell us how conditions will be different in September here versus what we’ve seen in the LV Cup?
JK: It’s pretty far out to predict precisely, but at this time of year, San Francisco starts to change normally. Yesterday [last day of LV Final] was a different day already. We start going into a more fall-type of pattern: lighter air with less sea breeze. The first four days of racing are going to be in a more flood-type of current, which will bring the winds down some and make it more time upwind than average and less time downwind on average than a normal slack tide. Lighter breeze and smoother water.