Ainslie takes over as Oracle tactician

British four-time Olympic champion Ben Ainslie has replaced John Kostecki as Oracle’s tactician ahead of races six and seven in the 34th edition of the America’s Cup.


American Kostecki is no longer mentioned among the crew list published on Thursday by the holders with Ainslie now listed as the team’s tactician.

The Briton had previously been second helmsman for the American team.

Kostecki, 49, has seemingly paid the price for Oracle’s tactical errors in losing four of five races to challengers Emirates Team New Zealand thus far.

The 36-year-old Ainslie, who has won three Olympic sailing golds in the Finn class as well as one in the Laser class, was on board Oracle’s AC72 catamaran during a training run on Wednesday, while Kostecki was nowhere to be seen.

Philippe Presti, the American team’s French coach, had indicated to AFP on Wednesday that some “surprises” could be expected when Oracle announced their team on Thursday morning.

Oracle elected to use its postponement card to delay Tuesday’s second scheduled race after the Americans were beaten convincingly by their Kiwi opponents in the fifth race of the best-of-17 contest.

Oracle won the start of Tuesday’s opening race and led the first two legs, but a bold attempt at a foiling tack saw them slow dramatically and they ultimately finished over a minute behind Team New Zealand.

The responsibility for the blunder, acknowledged by Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill, was attributed to Kostecki.

Oracle began the finals two points adrift after a pre-regatta penalty, and have won just one race, leaving them stuck on minus one and still needing 10 more wins to retain the Cup.