John Kostecki

Olympic medalist, Around the world skipper and America's Cup tactician.

Kostecki 2004HallofFame

Courtesy Bmw Oracle Racing

Since winning the Sears Cup as a teenager, John Kostecki’s name has come to signify consummate professionalism. Whether it’s the Volvo Ocean Race, in which he skippered illbruck to a convincing win in 2001, or the Sunfish Worlds, which he won at age 18, Kostecki (b. 1964) has displayed a consistent approach to preparation. Gary Jobson sums up Kostecki, of Reno, Nev., saying, “He’s a very gifted natural sailor, and he’s relentless. He just keeps chipping away at the lists.” Kostecki’s Olympic dream took hold early. “After those years with the Sears Cup and the Sunfish Worlds,” he says, “I was pretty adamant about trying to go.” He first started sailing a 470 with Zach Berkowitz, but they struggled in light air at the 1983 Pre-Olympics in Los Angeles. “I was a little big, and he was a little short,” says Kostecki. “I didn’t enjoy it at all; I was dieting and I enjoy eating.” When Bob Billingham asked him about skippering a Soling, Olympic class sailing became a lot more fun and they launched a five-year campaign. With third crew Will Baylis, they won the Soling Worlds twice and reached the Games in Pusan, Korea, with high expectations, but were beaten by Jochen Schuemann and came home with silver. “At the time we were disappointed,” Kostecki says. “We were totally gunning for first; but he was a lot older and more mature. He’d been there before.” Nonetheless, the medal was decided on the last beat in 30 knots of breeze. “We were first all the way around,” says Kostecki, who needed two boats between his and the Germans’. “He was ninth at the first mark, but was able to sail through the fleet. It was so windy there was no way we could drive him back.” Kostecki won the J/24 Worlds as well in 1988. Then he moved on to bigger boats, winning worlds in Six Meters, One Tons, Mumm 36s, and Farr 40s. At the same time he made two runs at the Olympics in the Star, surviving a death-roll capsize in one race during the ’96 trials and losing the series in a photo finish. Late in 2003, Kostecki dropped out of a Star campaign because he didn’t have the sponsorship backing to go all-out. Instead, he signed on for his third America’s Cup effort, this time with BMW Oracle Racing. As tactician, his preparation includes racing the match-race circuit with helmsman Gavin Brady. With a medal in his pocket and a Volvo win, when asked what it would take to beat Alinghi, Kostecki was characteristically matter of fact, saying, “Having a good campaign, getting good people, and just working hard it.” Sailing World conducted an interview with John Kostecki shortly after his induction into the Hall of Fame-to read, click here


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