AmericaOne New Zealand Chronicles:
A Confidence Game
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by Larry Edwards, Quokka Sports
Friday, February 4, 2000
AmericaOne tactician John Kostecki is a confidence man. Not in the sense that he's trying to sucker anyone into a flim-flam scheme. But it does involve gambling -- on wind shifts.
Classic match-racing tactics call for covering one's opponent -- staying between your man and the hoop. But on the unpredictable Hauraki Gulf, sometimes the rules have to be broken, Kostecki said.
The rule was broken today -- big time. At one point, AmericaOne and the Prada Challenge were on opposite sides of the racecourse, two kilometres apart. Not exactly covering one's opponent.
"It was a race winner. It was race over," Kostecki stated emphatically, justifying his call not to tack and stay with Prada just minutes into today's two-hour race.
It was a race winner indeed. AmericaOne led around the first mark by an incredible 1:19 -- against a boat it beat by a mere nine seconds two days ago. AmericaOne went on to win by 1:06 today.
"If we see an opportunity where we can gain on a wind shift, maybe we can put the race away all in one shift," Kostecki explained. "We were lifted and we saw more wind ahead, and we felt very, very strong about it."
Was there never any doubt? Was there ever apprehension about the decision?
"Sure, there's doubt, but it looked good to me, it looked good to [skipper] Paul [Cayard], it looked good to [strategist] Morgan Larson," Kostecki said. "We were all pretty comfortable with it.
"It comes down to a confidence factor, how confident you are in that gain, and if you're pretty confident, we normally go for it," he added. "If you're not, then it's safer to stay close and cover."
Simply put, he believes in himself and his decisions at the back of the San Francisco boat. And if it turns out he's wrong? He lives with it.
In Wednesday's race, AmericaOne rolled the dice and lost. Prada surged into the lead and AmericaOne was lucky to be trailing by just four boat lengths at the first mark. A fouled spinnaker aboard Prada's Luna Rossa brought AmericaOne back into the race.
But in today's match it paid off big time. AmericaOne put the race away on the first beat.
"I didn't think [the lead] was going to be quite that big, but we'll take it while we can," Kostecki said with a grin.
An AmericaOne win tomorrow means it's over. The Americans win the Louis Vuitton Cup and advance to the America's Cup match against Team New Zealand beginning 19 February. Will they still play the confidence game?
"We're not going to change our style," Kostecki said. "We're going out to win every race we're in. We're all winners and we hate to lose."
For full story go to: www.americascup.org
For additional information on AmericaOne, contact:
Gina von Esmarch
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