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Alex Matias Kossack: We are confident and we have good hopes this year!”

Text by Jo­a­o­La­ma­res | Trans­la­ti­on by Fred Kossack
Pho­to by ©JLpress/​JoaoLamares and Giu­li­et­ta Sai­ling Team

Giu­li­et­ta Sai­ling Team left Cas­cais on May 12th for yet another Me­di­ter­ra­ne­an ra­cing cam­paign, com­po­sed of 4 lar­ge regattas.

With the first race sche­du­led to start May 31st, Alex Kossack’s team will be­gin their Me­di­ter­ra­ne­an tour, by ra­cing the 151 Mi­glia re­gat­ta off Li­vor­no, fol­lowed by the Ro­lex Gi­ra­glia Cup 2017, a race that went very well for the team last year, and is due to start June 9th off the Co­ast of San­re­mo, St Tro­pez and Genova

Then af­ter a month to re­co­ver strengths and fine tune the boat, the team will head off to Pal­ma de Mal­lor­ca, whe­re for the se­cond time they will race the Copa Del Rey (King of Spain Cup). At the end of Sep­tem­ber the team will again line up for yet another start, this time the fa­mous Voi­les De St. Tro­pez, being the team’s first pre­sen­ce in this fa­mous race.

Af­ter a long overhaul this spring, whe­re sig­ni­fi­cant im­pro­ve­ments were made to the boat’s keel, mast, elec­tro­nics and sails, as well as a de­cre­a­se in weight, whi­ch re­sul­ted in more spe­ed and bet­ter con­trol upwind, the team de­parts for this tour in the Med with re­newed ex­pec­ta­ti­ons in im­pro­ving their al­re­ady very good performance.

We spo­ke with Alex Kos­sack for a bet­ter un­ders­tan­ding of what has been done and to what ex­tent this can help Giu­li­et­ta Sai­ling Team on this campaign.

Jl­press: 2016 was the year Giu­li­et­ta Sai­ling Team made strong bets with its in­ter­na­ti­o­nal ra­cing cam­paing. What is the ba­lan­ce of this tour in the Med?

Alex: Yes, it’s true, our de­ci­si­on to do only in­ter­na­ti­o­nal ra­ces in 2016, af­ter the good ex­pe­ri­en­ce we got in the 2015 edi­ti­on of the Ro­lex Mid­dle Sea Race and in this par­ti­cu­lar case the de­ci­si­on to do the 2016 cam­paign only in the Me­di­ter­ra­ne­an was much more po­si­ti­ve than we had anticipated.

The 2016 cam­paign star­ted well, with a 5th pla­ce fi­nish in the com­bi­ned re­sult of the Ro­lex Gi­ra­glia 2016, a re­gat­ta that had 310 bo­ats on the star­ting line, then a 12th pla­ce in the Copa del Rey in Spain, af­ter being ram­med by another boat and una­ble to par­ti­ci­pa­te in 4 of the 11 ra­ces, and fi­nally the 6th pla­ce in the 2016 Ro­lex Mid­dle Sea Race in Mal­ta, a re­gat­ta we rode in the front of our class most of the time and that es­ca­ped us due to the lack of wind, we did pretty good, I would say.

2016 was a re­ally good year, we had an ex­cel­lent cam­paign, in a very com­pe­ti­ti­ve uni­ver­se com­pe­ting with the top of ra­cing bo­ats. For this re­a­son we de­ci­ded to con­ti­nue the cam­paign in the Me­di­ter­ra­ne­an in 2017, this time even more ag­gres­si­ve, whe­re we will do 4 ra­ces, two that we al­re­ady did in 2016 (the Ro­lex Gi­ra­glia and the Copa Del Rey), whe­re we le­ar­ned a lot about the sty­le of Re­gat­ta and the te­ch­ni­cal and com­pe­ti­ti­ve le­vel of our op­po­nents, and we will de­but two new ra­ces: The mythi­cal 151 Mi­glia, an Offsho­re race that starts in Li­vor­no, pas­ses th­rough Pisa, Cor­si­ca and ends in Pun­ta Ala, a re­gat­ta that in May al­re­ady had 215 en­tri­es, all top bo­ats with more than 80% pro­fes­si­o­nals in the crew. Then in Sep­tem­ber, we will make the fa­mous 8-day Voi­les de St. Tro­pez race, whi­ch is made up of mul­ti­ple co­as­tal re­gat­tas du­ring the span of se­ve­ral days.

Team Marina Cascais Giulietta | Photo by team

Jl­press: Af­ter a sig­ni­fi­cant in­vest­ment, that gave Giu­li­et­ta a new keel, new mast and elec­tro­nics, new sails and chan­ges to the hull, what are the ex­pec­ta­ti­ons for this new cam­paign in the Mediterranean?

Alex: One of the big ad­van­ta­ges of the 2016 cam­paign, in whi­ch we ra­ced very com­pe­ti­ti­ve Offsho­re and windward /​Le­eward re­gat­tas, was the op­por­tu­nity to see how our boat runs, how it per­forms and how it sails, com­pa­red to other bo­ats and how we per­form as a team, with re­gards to the other boats.

Whilst with the crew you can ea­sily sol­ve the pro­blem by chan­ging po­si­ti­ons on bo­ard, re­cruit new crew mem­bers and a lot of prac­ti­ce, with the boat, the chan­ges are a lot more com­pli­ca­ted, har­der and re­qui­re other le­vels of investment.

We are very lucky with the boat that we have, be­cau­se due to the ex­pe­ri­en­ce we have with it, and the im­pro­ve­ments we have made th­roughout the ye­ars and its ver­sa­ti­lity, it can be ea­sily mo­di­fi­ed and adap­ted to the dif­fe­rent ty­pes of re­gat­ta we race, be it offsho­res or windward/​leeward races.

Offsho­re ra­ces, are ra­ces that fa­vor beam re­a­ches, re­a­ches and downwind points of sail, and for this, the boat uses dif­fe­rent sets of sails and is set up dif­fe­ren­tly than it is for spe­ed ra­ces, like Upwind/​Downwind ra­ces, whe­re we have a gre­a­ter need to sail upwind ef­fi­ci­en­tly and for this the sails are dif­fe­rent and weight dis­tri­bu­ti­on on bo­ard is also different.

It’s a lit­tle bit with cars, whe­re a car set for spe­ed is dif­fe­rent from a car set for en­du­ran­ce be­cau­se the ra­ces are dif­fe­rent and the re­qui­re­ments too.

Sin­ce we can­not have a boat for each type of re­gat­ta, ours must be adap­ted and chan­ged ea­sily and fast ac­cor­ding to the type of regattas.

This is whe­re we in­ves­ted and de­ci­ded to chan­ge the boat. We chan­ged and im­pro­ved the com­po­nents that are more im­por­tant and com­mon to both ty­pes of re­gat­ta, com­po­nents that un­til now either fa­vo­red one type of race or the other.

In the end we have in­cre­a­sed the ver­sa­ti­lity of the boat, and due to this, we have in­cre­a­sed our ex­pec­ta­ti­ons for the cam­paign that be­gins now.

But as in all things, we can only see the ef­fect of our in­vest­ment af­ter the re­gat­tas start and we are in the heat of them … but yes, we are con­fi­dent that it was a good bet and we have good ho­pes this year.

Giulietta Sailing Team | Photo Jlpress/JoaoLamares2016

Jl­press: With re­gards to the crew, are the­re chan­ges? Do you have any news with re­gards to this?

Alex: Our crew is well known for not ha­ving ma­jor chan­ges sin­ce 2012 and is prac­ti­cally and al­most always com­po­sed of the ele­ments. This helps us with the com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on on bo­ard and our ex­pe­ri­en­ce and kno­wled­ge of the boat.

The core of the team re­mains un­chan­ged, Ju­li­e­ta Kos­sack, my­self, Mi­guel Nu­nes, Car­los Lei­tão, Fred Kos­sack, Ti­a­go Je­sus, Hugo Ro­dri­gues and Di­o­go Pinto

Last year an ol­der mem­ber, Da­vid Gra­de, joi­ned us for the offsho­re ra­ces, na­mely the Ro­lex Mid­dle Sea Race, and he re­pla­ced Ru­ben who now has a more res­tric­ti­ve pro­fes­si­o­nal ac­ti­vity. Also last year we used Ma­til­de Melo in the Gi­ra­glia and the Copa and Di­o­go Ma­cha­do Pin­to was also ad­mit­ted into the team, Di­o­go in the mean time joi­ned the core of the team and is now a fi­xed crew.

This year, Ma­til­de can not race, so we had the need to re­cruit another ele­ment. Ma­til­de left and João Ma­ria Pri­e­to en­te­red. Joao will de­but in the Ro­lex Gi­ra­glia in June, and will then con­ti­nue to the other ra­ces with us.

Howe­ver, the core re­mains un­chan­ged. The­se are the 8 that can­not fail to any race, the ones that cons­ti­tu­te the mi­ni­mum crew and are the­re­fo­re de­di­ca­ted to 100% to our ra­cing schedules…

Jl­press: How dif­fi­cult is it for a 100% Por­tu­gue­se team (everything in Giu­li­et­ta is made in Por­tu­gal from the boat and sails to all the dif­fe­rent com­po­nents, in­clu­ding the crew), to main­tain par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on at this high com­pe­ti­ti­ve level?

Alex: Well .… it’s not that easy, but with de­di­ca­ti­on, we can do it!

The­re are two fronts to tac­kle here. One front is the re­gat­tas them­sel­ves, due to the ag­gres­si­ve­ness of our sche­du­le of events and the re­gat­tas we op­ted to do, (abo­ve all be­cau­se of the dis­tan­ce of pla­ces whe­re we race and the num­ber of days we are for­ced to be out in terms of spen­ding) is not easy, and on the other front, the boat itself.
In what lo­gis­tics are con­cer­ned, from the trans­port of the boat from Por­tu­gal to Italy, Fran­ce, Spain, etc. to the ra­ces them­sel­ves the chal­len­ge has been hard.

The boat fer­ry is ex­pen­si­ve, the tra­vel ex­pen­ses are too, and of cour­se, a crew to be ef­fec­ti­ve, has to be well fed and well slept, otherwi­se the per­for­man­ce and the com­mit­ment diminish.

Un­for­tu­na­tely we have few sup­ports, the ones we have help, but they are not enough, and this part, whi­ch is so sig­ni­fi­cant for a pro­ject like this has cre­a­ted some difficulties.

In terms of crew, we do when pos­si­ble, re­gu­lar prac­ti­ce days. The team does we­e­kly phy­si­cal trai­ning and the boat is mo­di­fi­ed and adap­ted accordingly.

The fact that it is 100% Por­tu­gue­se does not de­cre­a­se at all our chan­ces, and is by no me­ans a han­di­cap. That part is ac­tu­ally a help­ful thing.

Te­ch­ni­cally rely on the ever-help­ful help of Del­mar Con­de and his two sons, Re­na­to and Gil, who are always avai­la­ble to help us and re­ady to mo­dify the boat as we re­qui­re or re­quest. Ba­si­cally, in terms of boat, only they are al­lowed to mo­dify it and we only use them for that. This is sa­cred. They built Giu­li­et­ta and know it in­si­de out as well as I do, if not better.

As for the sails, it would be al­most im­pos­si­ble for us to do it without the help and de­di­ca­ti­on of Pe­dro Pi­res de Lima and Ve­las Pi­res de Lima, who not only ma­kes us new sails each year but is also cons­tan­tly de­sig­ning, mo­difying, al­te­ring and im­pro­ving them , be­cau­se the ra­tings and ru­les chan­ge all the time, and each time we chan­ge so­mething on the boat or the mast we are for­ced to make new sails or mo­dify them. He is a big help, indeed.
For the me­cha­ni­cal main­te­nan­ce, we rely on the spon­sorship from Ya­chtworks by the lead by Lou­ren­co Gama, and that le­a­ves us always at ease about the en­gi­ne and equip­ment and that, ne­ver fails.

For the cos­me­tics, we have Sa­fehar­bor and of cour­se we have the sup­port of Ma­ri­na of Cas­cais, who has been hel­ping us and sup­por­ting us sin­ce 2011.

It has been very dif­fi­cult, but we have succeeded.

Jl­press: Af­ter the lar­ge pri­ce in­cre­a­se on re­gat­ta fees in Lis­bon, what do you pre­dict fot the fu­tu­re of Por­tu­gue­se sailing?

Alex: Well, this is a mild” to­pic for me, at the mo­ment I am just a mere observer.

We stop­ped ra­cing in Por­tu­gal sin­ce Sep­tem­ber 2015 be­cau­se we are always abro­ad. So this is­sue does not af­fect us, at le­ast for now. The ra­ces that we do in Por­tu­gal are to prac­ti­ce or test chan­ges in the boat, and we only do a few far and between.

As I un­ders­tand it, the­re was an in­cre­a­se in the cost of re­gat­ta en­try fees, be­cau­se sud­denly the autho­ri­ti­es think the­re the a need for ma­ri­ti­me po­li­cing, whi­ch has ne­ver been ne­e­ded and ma­kes no sen­se. Now, apa­pren­tely it has to be paid, in­cre­a­sing the cost of race re­gis­tra­ti­on fees.

Also, I be­li­e­ve, if I un­ders­to­od cor­rec­tly, the FPV had en­te­red the ne­go­ti­a­ti­on pro­cess and were trying to re­sol­ve the mat­ter ami­ca­bly with the Port of Lis­bon, and the­re were al­re­ady some news about the issue.

I con­fess that I have not paid much at­ten­ti­on to the mat­ter, but I am of the opi­ni­on that all the­se res­tric­ti­ons and im­po­si­ti­ons can je­o­par­di­ze an ac­ti­vity that is al­re­ady in it­self at high risk, not only be­cau­se of lthe ack of sup­port, but also be­cau­se of the costs inhe­rent in the ac­ti­vity . It is an ac­ti­vity that is seen as being eli­tist and the­re­fo­re easy prey.

I am not re­ally fa­vo­ra­ble to sub­sidy-de­pen­den­ce, on either side, but I also think that over-ta­xing to al­low sub­sidy-de­pen­den­ce is not the solution.

Abro­ad, and in teh Med, the costs of ra­cing are exor­bi­tant and or­ga­ni­za­ti­ons usu­ally re­cei­ve spon­sorships from big com­pa­ni­es like Ro­lex, Vol­vo, Map­fre etc. . But the­se spon­sors re­qui­re ri­gor and gre­at me­dia ex­po­su­re, with lar­ge me­dia te­ams and co­ve­ra­ge at all ti­mes. This ex­po­si­ti­on has paid off to the spon­sors and works, as more and more com­pa­ni­es are seen spon­so­ring the gre­at World ra­ces. The ex­po­su­re does pay off for them.

In Por­tu­gal this is nowhe­re to be seen! We con­ti­nue with our ty­pi­cal petty small­ness, and ins­te­ad of trying to help, we tend to sink more. Everything is re­ver­sed; Ins­te­ad of trying to en­ri­ch the com­mu­nity, so that col­lec­ti­vely the le­vel ri­ses, in Por­tu­gal the exact op­po­si­te is done, it se­ems that they are keen on fa­vo­ring the des­cent of le­vel, I re­ally do not un­ders­tand it.

Abo­rad, the tou­rism bu­re­aus, the tou­rism of­fi­ces and the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ti­es whe­re the re­gat­tas are made, are always pre­sent, and ac­ti­ve. From San­re­mo to Pal­ma De Mal­lor­ca, pas­sing by St. Tro­pez etc. , be­cau­se with this they gain from the sa­les of ho­tel beds, the oc­cu­pa­ti­on of the ma­ri­nas, the lo­cal com­mer­ce, etc.

They have al­re­ady re­a­li­zed that with this everyo­ne wins, the lo­cal autho­ri­ti­es in­vest in the ac­ti­vity and we see bo­ats pou­ring in the re­gat­tas with num­bers of bo­ats abo­ve 300 re­gis­te­red, with an ave­ra­ge of 15 crew mem­bers per boat this re­pre­sents a lo­cal oc­cu­pa­ti­on of 4500 pe­o­ple for one week! We are tal­king about a Mil­li­ons of Eu­ros of pro­fit in the area, the spa­ce of a week, in ex­chan­ge for some investment.

In Por­tu­gal, well … let’s tax, it’s ea­si­er this way …

May­be we live in dif­fe­rent worlds, but in re­a­lity?? I’d rather run abroad.

More about Giulietta

Note for JL­press Editor’s Chief:
JL­press it’s gra­te­full for the help of Fred Kos­sack in the trans­la­ti­on of this text.

Guar­dar

Guar­dar

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