America’s Cup has only three American participants
San Francisco, CA, United States (4E Sports) – The event is dubbed America’s Cup but sadly, only three Americans will see action when it sails off starting Oct. 2 on San Francisco Bay.
Tactician John Kostecki made it to the roster of defending champion Oracle Team USA, skippered by Australian Jimmy Spithill while Terry Hutchinson will captain Artemis together with another American sailor Kevin Hall.
The fourth American, tactician Tom Slingsby, works on the back-up boat for Oracle Team USA.
Clearly, the glory days of American sailing during the 1970s and 1980s where blue-blooded Americans Ted Turner and Dennis Conner ruled the America’s Cup are far behind. Turner won in 1977 and Conner in 1974, 1980, 1987 and 1988.
World champion sailor Zach Berkowitz explained that Americans’ passion for sailing waned when it went the way of baseball, basketball and football where kids are coached to learn the sport.
“There’s no more street ball,” said Berkowitz, who recalled that when he was a kid, sailing was undertaken for adventure’s sake.
“When I was a kid, we’d sail from the San Francisco Yacht Club to Richmond, get back at midnight. Our parents might get worried and call the Coast Guard, but we’d be back doing it the next week,” Berkowitz said.
“We’d get a rush putting the big spinnaker up and seeing how fast we could go before we’d crash. We’d push and push and push, to get that extra rush,” he added.
Now, Berkowitz said kids are being put in smaller, slower boats to enjoy the sport but they lack the creative elements to excel in competitive sailing, unlike in Australia and New Zealand where they push kids to the limit.
“The mentality in Australia and New Zealand is to push, to learn to understand speed and what happens,” Berkowitz said. “They put kids in high-performance boats when they’re growing up, pushing the fun level.”