Johannesburg – Just a week ago, Oracle Team USA were celebrating one of the most remarkable comebacks in sport after clawing their way back from a 1-8 race deficit to take the America’s Cup 9-8.
Joining in those celebrations was one South African sailor, who worked as the team’s safety diver. Having been a part of the America’s Cup before, Capetonian Jan Dekker was invited to join Oracle Team USA at the beginning of this year.
“I was with Alinghi in the last two America’s Cup so I know most of the guys and got the call in January,” said Dekker, who grew up sailing dinghies in Hermanus and has become one of the country’s leading yachtsmen, competing in numerous major international campaigns. “I was on the sailing team, reserve crew, AC 45 crew and mostly the rescue diver.
“That involves sailing on the boat when needed and mostly being on standby in the chase boat, ready to jump in the water to rescue people in the event of the catamaran capsizing,” he added.
Understandably Dekker points to the final race as the highlight of the whole experience and explained what he believes gave Oracle Team USA the edge. “After losing earlier on we kept on analysing the performance of the boats and kept on making changes. We were more pro-active than the other team,” he said.
“We went out practising on the days off and progressed non-stop. It has been a great experience, I learnt a lot about foiling boats and the dangers they represent.”
As for the incredible comeback from the brink of a humiliating defeat, Dekker reckoned: “Every race that we won after being 1:8 down was as if we had survived another kill. Each one gave us more confidence and we got stronger each time.”
Dekker is currently competing in the Voiles de St Tropez regatta in France and will return to Cape Town next week. – Supplied