Ivica Kostelic was among the best skaters in the world in his previous life. His record: Four Olympic silver medals, a world champion title, 26 World Cup successes and a large crystal globe in 2011. Now, at 42, the Croatian has gone from the mountains to sailing the seas and oceans in the 40 class, this 40-foot single the structure. On Sunday, Ivica Kostelic will take the solo launch of the Route du Rhum for the first time from Saint-Malo in Brittany. Without fears and always with the mentality of a hero.
Ivica, when did you ever think of becoming a skilled sailor? Have you already thought about it during your skiing career?
Yes, for the past two seasons. I was already telling myself I had to try sea racing. I still have a sailing fanatic. I’ve always followed all the races in a mini class, the transatlantic races and of course the Vendée Globe. I’ve always seen these races as incredibly challenging. At the end of my career I bought a class of 40 and told myself I would see for a year if I could sail. If I knew how to sail and if I would love it. I loved it and wanted to compete.
I only started competitive sailing in 2018. With Rhum Road already in mind?
definitely. From the start, my goal has been the Rum Road. I focused all my energy and preparation for this.
How do you feel a few days before departure? are you ready? Stress?
No, I’m not stressed. I’m all set and so is the boat. I have made my base for two years in Cherbourg. I come every month for ten to fifteen days to train and go shopping. Now is the time.
Did you cross Jacques Fabre twice with Antoine Caliste last year ranking well at number 17?
Yes exactly. I still have an old boat from 2013 with a somewhat outdated design. The goal was to be in the top 20. We were surprised to be among the top five all the way to Cape Verde. It was really a very good race for us.
But Rhum’s road will be solo. for the first time?
Yes, this will be your first time traveling across the Atlantic. I think I prepared well for that. The project was implemented step by step. This season I’ve had more individual races and more individual training. I think I’m ready and excited to take this big step.
How did you build your project financially?
It’s a very small project. The problem is finances, sponsors. Of course, I have connections with sponsors in my ancient sport, but sailing is not the same world. We set a small budget and we always have to keep tabs on the budget. I can’t have a great team but I have good people around me to help me. They are two or three friends. I hope after Rhum Road I can continue with a better budget and a more professional team.
What budget do you have?
I have a budget of 50 thousand euros for this season. It is very modest, perhaps one of the lowest budgets in the fleet. We don’t have the latest equipment but we have to be smarter and we are doing very well so far.
You were one of the greatest ski champions. Your history not helping you find money?
If it helps me of course but you have to understand that there are absolutely no outdoor races in Croatia. We have a wonderful marine field and coast in the Adriatic Sea but all efforts are being made in the Olympic sailing competitions. I am the only marine racing project in the country. It is not easy to convince sponsors. It takes effort and I’m not a very good salesperson. I have to be smarter to find opportunities also in France. I have to because I want to keep going. Financial resources are half the work and require energy.
What do you like about the world of sailing? Is it completely different from the skateboarding world you know so well?
It’s very different. Alpine skiing is a Germanic world. Very competitive and different mentality. Racing abroad is a French world. Human relations are better in sailing, especially because ocean racing is a sport in which you rely on your opponents for your safety at sea. I’ve spent some time with the other skippers and I see that they are very much in solidarity because facing the oceans is a big enough challenge for everyone. transcends adversity. The first help you can get at sea is to help your competition. This is a unique situation in sports. On the other hand, in skiing, the competition is much more intense and intense than in sailing.
How much of your previous career helps you be a good sailor today?
First, I believe that in sailing as in skiing, it is important to plan for good preparation. We focus on one goal. Then, tactically and strategically, it’s completely different and I have to learn a lot. These are long-distance sailing races. Ski speed. Lunge for a minute or two. You take risks all the time. In sailing, you must maintain your strength. Be smarter, take care of your boat and have very extensive knowledge of weather, mechanics etc.
But you who like speed and very high speed even on skates, is it difficult to learn to move slowly?
Oh (laughs)! I’ve never thought of it this way before. For me, the important thing is to move forward as quickly as possible. Yes, sailing is slower but the principles are the same. Snowboarding is high adrenaline but in sailing, if you’re in the right weather conditions, there’s also adrenaline. I like to find myself in these situations and when things get tough, I take it even further. I am very happy.
Do you have a role model in sailing?
No not really. I see ocean races as part of the mystery of my love of the sea in general. Since I was a child we have spent three and four months on vacation in the islands of Croatia without electricity in the middle of nature. It was a mediterranean life with lots of diving and fishing. I love anything about the sea, I’ve read a lot of books. My first models or heroes were the biologist Bombard or Bernard Moissier. More for the adventurous side of the master. Later, I really liked the duels at the Vendée Globe. I learn from all the masters with their different mindsets. The Reckless Side of Alex Thompson, Vincent Riou Analysis, Ellen Mac Arthur Design.
Sail other great heroes like you. Have you talked about it with, say, Jean Galvion or Aurélien Ducroz, a skater like you? The two of you will be with you first on Sunday?
definitely! Aurélien is one of my best friends. like brother. We are alike with a passion for mountains and the sea, I recently met Jean Galvonne. It’s great to see that we can continue to be at such a high level in another sport. He is an inspiration to me.
What are your strengths and weaknesses before your big departure?
My strengths, I would say my determination and focus. My weaknesses, I think I have no experience. I tried to sail as much as I could but I didn’t know all the possible situations at sea, and I have to learn and improve tactics. Lots of progress. My biggest flaw is also my lack of technical knowledge of the boat or how to fix small mechanical damages. I hope I don’t have any problems.
Have you ever had adventures on the high seas?
Yes, of course. In the beginning, you make every possible mistake. You keep banging your head on the boat (smiles). Little by little, you eliminate that and problems with tactics and strategies arise. I still struggle with this but I see my progress and I love it so much. I feel more confident. But sometimes you make silly mistakes with the sails and find yourself having to climb the mast into the open sea, and that’s not the coolest thing you can do.
And what about storms?
Yes, we had very difficult conditions on our return trip from Transat Jacques Vabre. It’s not pleasant but one of my goals is to be more comfortable in these conditions. Once you understand that you can deal with it, and that you know what to do, it gets better. The worst storms are during the night. You do not see anything. You have no control and you have to put your trust in the autopilot with the speedboat. You’re under the waves all the time. It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever lived with.
But what do you think is the craziest? Speeding in Kitzbühel or sailing around the globe?
(laughs) Ah, they’re both crazy in their own way! It still depends on whether you play for victory and how far you have to push performance to reach your goal. Both require the acceptance of putting yourself at risk. I also think that in Kitzbühel the difference is that at any time you can say stop and stop. In the open sea, in the midst of a storm, you cannot choose to stop. Also, on the Vendée Globe or the major races across the Atlantic, you have to negotiate the long-term, agreeing to be alone to solve your problems. In the evening, you cannot return to your hotel. That’s what makes the Vendée Globe so great a challenge that inspires respect.
And do you dream of a Vendée Globe project?
The question gets asked a lot and I always answer yes and no. I am a competitor. I like it and if you want to be competitive in Imoca you need a modern boat. I don’t want to do the Vendée Globe with the slowest boat in the fleet. Therefore, to do this race, you need solid financial foundations. It takes work but of course it is the dream I have in mind for all sailors.
In this way, what are your goals?
What is certain is that I am not racing just to see Guadeloupe. I have several class 40 boats with me and they are my sister ships. So I want to see what I can do against them and if I’m doing well. My goal of course is to finish but by pushing my abilities to 100%. I want to fight for a good position. I think I can finish mid-fleet.
Skiing and sailing. Is there also music? Are you also a musician? Do you still own your rock band?
(laughs) Yeah, I’ve been playing guitar for years. We played with our group and friends skaters during the last world championships. We really had a blast. It’s a great post and it brings me so much joy. I try to play as much as possible.
And you take songs on that road du rom? Maybe even a guitar?
I play music all the time. At sea, she plays a quiet song when the conditions are right. A song full of energy when you’re in a storm. Music can help you feel better at sea. It’s quite large but I thought it might be a harp. I’ll see (smiles).
#Ivica #Kostelics #challenge #Kitzbühel #Saint #Malo