ORACLE TEAM USA has released its crew list heading into Races 6 and 7 of the 34th America’s Cup. Ben Ainslie moves into the role of tactician, while the rest of the 11-member crew remains the same: skipper & helmsman Jimmy Spithill; grinder Shannon Falcone, trimmer/grinder Rome Kirby, wing trimmer Kyle Langford, grinder Jonathan Macbeth, jib trimmer Joe Newton, grinder Gilberto Nobili, strategist/grinder Tom Slingsby, grinder Joe Spooner and grinder Simeon Tienpont.
“We’ve decided to make a change in the back and bring Ben Ainslie onboard,” Spithill said. “While making crew changes has always been an option, we understand there’s a risk that comes with it. JK is a great teammate and a tremendous asset to our program, and he is supportive of the decision.”
Ainslie, a four-time Olympic gold medalist, moves into the position filled by John Kostecki, “JK,” through the first five races of the regatta. Ainslie was at the helm of the team’s second AC72 during the two-boat testing program.
“It’s a tough decision to make, but I’m happy to step up and do what’s best for the team,” Ainslie said. “I have a huge amount of respect for JK and really appreciate his support in making the transition.”
Kostecki will be on the water as a reserve sailor during the races.
“Our goal is keep the America’s Cup here no matter what the crew combination is,” said Kostecki. “It’s clear we need to improve performance, and with that comes changes. I’ll fill whatever role is best to help us win.”
ORACLE TEAM USA resumes racing today with races No. 6 and 7 of the match, beginning at 1:15 pm PT and 2:15 pm PT, respectively.