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John Kostecki Reports

Nov. 27 — Penguin, Killer Whale Sightings in Hauraki Gulf

Our third day of sailing on the 2000 America's Cup course on the Hauraki Gulf, was quite exciting. Each day this week we have sailed out to the America's Cup course from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, the current holder of the America's Cup.

The 12-mile sail is an interesting one, sailing through Waitemata Harbor, near downtown Auckland, then turning left into the Rangitoto Channel, which leads you to the Hauraki Gulf, where the 2000 America's Cup will be sailed.

Today, while sailing in the Rangitoto Channel, we saw a penguin. The only penguin I have seen in person was at the San Diego Zoo about a month ago. I had thought that penguins inhabited only cold areas near the South Pole. The local youth sailors we have on board this week quickly pointed out that penguins are quite popular in New Zealand.

Fifteen minutes after seeing my first penguin in the wild, I saw a huge black fin that came out of the water 100 meters from our MRX 34 sloop in the Hauraki Gulf. I yelled when I saw the fin, but nobody else on our boat saw it. I pointed in the direction in which I saw the fin come out of the water, so the others on our boat could see it again if it happened to surface.

Paul Cayard, our skipper, pointed to a bird and told me that I was seeing things. Just when he said that, the fin and body of a killer whale came out of the water only 75 meters from our boat. This time everbody saw it. The only time I've seen a killer whale is at Sea World in a large pool and his name was "Shamu". Seeing a killer whale in the wild was an awesome sight!

The weather today was extreme, with the winds qusting to 34 knots on the Hauraki Gulf. A front passed through this afternoon, which caused these high winds. We plan to sail for another five days on the America's Cup course to gather weather data and get a feel for the conditions in New Zealand.

John Kostecki, Tactician, Team AmericaOne

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Nov. 25 — First Day on the America's Cup Course

We made it out on the America's Cup race course today, to be the first challenging syndicate to sail on the 2000 America's Cup course.

It was a first for our skipper Paul Cayard, designer Bruce Nelson and myself to actually sail on the race course. And it was windy! We experienced puffs to 30 knots today on the Hauraki Gulf, where the 2000 America's Cup will be sailed.

We chartered two MRX 34s, the same boats we raced last week in the Steinlager Line 7 Match Race. We plan on sailing or racing everyday this week to familarize ourselves with the local conditions here in Auckland.

Our crew this week on the MRXs are kids from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadraon Youth Progaram. They range in age from 16 to 20 years old. Today the kids from the youth program showed us the way to the America's Cup course, and helped us begin a three-year study of the conditions here in Auckland.

We experienced rough conditions today, but we expect the weather to moderate later in the week. We conclude our trip in Auckland, New Zealand, on December 1st.

John Kostecki, Tactician, Team AmericaOne

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