Harken Derm

AC34: Had To Happen Because It Always Does

Published on September 12th, 2013

(September 12, 2013) – When America’s Cup defender Oracle Team USA announced today that 5-time Olympic medalist Ben Ainslie would replace John Kostecki in the tactician role, it continued a tradition of drama that follows Larry Ellison’s America’s Cup efforts. Here are some notes from his four campaigns…

31st America’s Cup – Auckland, New Zealand, 2003
CHALLENGER: The team was created by purchasing the assets of Paul Cayard’s AmericaOne syndicate which was the losing finalist against Luna Rossa in the 2000 Louis Vuitton Cup. The syndicate got off to a rocky start with changes in the skipper position, alternating between Cayard and Chris Dickson, to Dickson alone, to Peter Holmberg, and then back to Dickson. Oracle reached the finals of the 2003 Louis Vuitton Cup, losing to Alinghi 5-1.

32nd America’s Cup – Valencia, Spain, 2007
CHALLENGER: Chris Dickson took on the roles of CEO, skipper, and helmsman, which carried them into the Louis Vuitton Semifinals. After trailing 1-4 against Luna Rossa’s James Spithill, Dickson was removed from the boat, with Sten Mohr taking the helm and Gavin Brady assuming the role of tactician and skipper. BMW Oracle Racing lost to Luna Rossa Challenge 5 to 1.

33rd America’s Cup – Valencia, Spain, 2010
CHALLENGER: Larry Ellison launched a new regime with CEO Russell Coutts, skipper Jimmy Spithill and tactician John Kostecki. While the lawyers fought a long and acrimonious legal battle in the New York courts (with a few lawyers replaced along the way) , the designers and sailors developed their 90-foot trimaran that would face off against the Alinghi catamaran in the best of three Deed of Gift match. The rigid wing sail of the challenging trimaran USA-17 provided a decisive advantage, and it won the 2010 America’s Cup 2-0.

34th America’s Cup – San Francisco, 2013
DEFENDER: With the sailing team intact, they were a formidable competitor on the AC World Series circuit. But disaster struck in October 2012 when their AC72 capsized, suffering significant damage. More trouble came in August 2013 when it was learned the team illegally altered their AC45s during the ACWS, resulting in a loss of a key crew (Dirk DeRidder) and a 2 point penalty to be applied to the America’s Cup. After winning only one of the first five races, tactician John Kostecki was replaced by Ben Ainslie.

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