John Kostecki to join sailing Hall

SAN DIEGO -- When John Kostecki is inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame on Sunday, he'll still have a few bruises from being slammed around in a spectacular capsize in last week's America's Cup World Series on San Francisco Bay.

Such are the occupational hazards of being one of the world's top sailors.

"It was pretty exciting," said Kostecki, whose Hall of Fame credentials include winning the America's Cup, a round-the-world race and a silver medal in the Olympics. "It happened really quickly. I ended up falling from the windward hull down onto the wing and into the water. We were pretty lucky to have no major injuries, no broken bones. We were able to right it and continued racing."

Kostecki is among nine sailors who will be honored during a ceremony at the Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans.

The three other living inductees are Stan Honey, a noted offshore sailor who co-founded the company that developed the yellow first-down line popular in football broadcasts and then applied that technology to America's Cup broadcasts; Mark Reynolds, a San Diego sailmaker who won two Olympic gold medals and one silver; and Canadian Bruce Kirby, whose many boat designs include the Laser, which is sailed in the Olympics.

Posthumous inductees are Peter Barrett, who won Olympic gold and silver medals; Bob Bavier, who skippered Constellation to victory in the 1964 America's Cup; Gregg Bemis, a preeminent rules expert; Rod Stephens, a yacht designer, America's Cup winner and recipient of the Medal of Freedom during World War II; and John Cox Stevens, the founder and first commodore of the New York Yacht Club. Stevens was a key member of the syndicate that in 1851 won the trophy that became the America's Cup.

At 48, Kostecki is the youngest person to go into the National Sailing Hall of Fame.

Last year's inaugural class of 11 was a veritable boatload of the sport's stalwarts, including Dennis Conner, Ted Turner, Lowell North and the late Harold Vanderbilt.

"It's a special honor and pretty cool to be included with some of the nation's top sailors," Kostecki said.

Unlike some other sports, inductees don't have to be retired to be eligible for induction.

"One of our major themes is engaging sailing's next generation and preserving sailing's legacy. I think this does that," said the Hall of Fame's director, Lee Tawney. "In every other sport, commentators refer to future or past Hall of Famers. Now the sport of sailing has that, where people can reference these folks as members of the Hall of Fame."

Kostecki is tactician for Oracle Racing. In February 2010, he was the only American on the crew that sailed a giant trimaran to a two-race sweep of Alinghi of Switzerland to bring the America's Cup to San Francisco.

The America's Cup World Series is being contested in fast, wing-sailed 45-foot catamarans. Next summer's Louis Vuitton Cup for challengers and then the 34th America's Cup will be sailed in 72-foot cats.

Capsizes are part of the action, which is why the sailors wear crash helmets and life vests. Not even the champions are immune from wipeouts.

"In this day and age, that's the way racing is," Kostecki said. "We've got to take the punches as well as the glory, at times."

Oracle's capsize last Saturday made it onto ESPN's "Not Top 10" list.

An hour after the wipeout, the Oracle crew, headed by skipper Jimmy Spithill, won the match racing championship at the San Francisco ACWS stop. The next day, the crew won the final fleet race to claim the overall regatta championship.

Kostecki won a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics and skippered the yacht illbruck to victory in the 2001-02 Volvo Ocean Race.

Honey, 57, was navigator aboard ABN Amro One, which won the 2005-06 Volvo Ocean Race. He received the 2010 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year award after serving as navigator on the trimaran Groupama 3, which set the record -- since broken -- for the fastest circumnavigation of the globe.

As co-founder of Sportvision Inc., Honey led the development of the yellow first-down line for football broadcasts, the NASCAR racecar tracking and highlighting system, baseball's K-Zone and LiveLine for America's Cup World Series broadcasts, which superimposes graphics on live shots to help viewers figure out what can be a confusing sport.

The LiveLine technology won an Emmy for extraordinary technical innovation. Honey was one of 10 people involved with the project who got a statue.

Reynolds was known as "The star of the Star class." He won a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics and golds in 1992 and 2000.

"The list of guys who were inducted last year was pretty incredible, and to be in the second year, it's just kind of amazing that I can be included with a lot of these guys that I looked up to as a kid," Reynolds said.