Skier Kostelic teams up with Kliba to sail double handed
Tuesday, November 24, 2020 8:18 AM
Launching a whole new Olympic campaign in an entirely different sport is no mean feat, particularly for an athlete so successful in their original craft.
But for Croatian Ivica Kostelic, a multiple Olympic medallist in alpine skiing, it's more than just a new challenge - he's chasing a lifelong love affair with the sea.
And he's now joined forces with skilled offshore sailor Petra Kliba to aim for more Olympic glory in the Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat Event at Paris 2024.
With four-time silver medallist Kostelic armed with plenty of Olympic nous, and Kliba's impressive sailing CV listing both the Hong Kong Challenge Round the World Race and the HSH Nordbank Blue Race as co-skipper, they will certainly be a forced to be reckoned with should they make it to the start line in Marseille.
"We met around six to eight months ago and chose a 100-mile race to get to know each other," explained Kliba.
"It matters how we get along on the boat, rather than on land, and we found we get along well so we decided we can go on.
"The inclusion of the double handed offshore at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris is quite nice for us women sailors, as we really had fewer classes and possibilities where we could sail.
"It's really exciting to choose the double offshore and I think it's going to also be a monotype racing, so it will be nice for the fans to follow.
"I've done this many times with a full crew, at least eight people, and it's the first time I'm going to be in the double handed.
"Sometimes when I sailed in the women's crews, we always took more people onboard, because we said, "we will have more hands." Now we only have four hands to do everything, so that is definitely challenging."
"I think the inclusion of the double handed mixed offshore at Paris 2024 is a great idea," added Kostelic.
"Offshore and double handed racing is growing overall in the world, and I think this is the right way to go to support this trend.
"It fits a modern way of living. It's quite simple to get a crew; collecting and assembling a whole crew of up to 10-12 people is time-consuming, and it's much easier to have a double handed project.
"I think it's also a lot of fun. For me, double handed offshore is the nicest way of sailing and there are not many conflicts on board. It's very pleasant."
The passion both sailors have for the offshore discipline is evident, with Kostelic's own personal journey from skiing to sailing highlighting why he wants to take on this new challenge.
"My love for sailing is just one piece of the puzzle in my love towards the sea," he explained.
"I have always spent a lot of time at sea since I was a kid; I lived on an island in Croatia for about two to three months every year. I'm pretty much in love with the sea and everything the sea has to offer.
"I went to sailing school back in 2005, but I only started competitive sailing very recently, because I had no time when I was still ski racing.
"After I quit that, I was looking for another sport where I could maybe put my competitiveness into work. That's how I came to sailing, and I've always loved offshore sailing.
"Skiing is a sport where you have to give everything in just one or two minutes, and offshore sailing is usually a long-distance race. The risk management is completely different.
"The only thing I would say these two sports have in common is the focus. The power of focus is very important; it's decisive and high-level. I believe learning some mental skills in one sport is useful for all other sports."
So, what does the future hold for the Croatian duo? With this year's global pandemic affecting their travel plans, they'll be competing locally for the time being, and looking ahead to whatever double handed offshore racing opportunities arise between now and 2024.
"I have a Mini 650 based here in the Adriatic, so we took the opportunity to use it," said Kostelic.
"With the COVID travel restrictions, we couldn't travel abroad that much this year, so we stuck to the Adriatic and we raced in Italy and Croatia.
"We would like to race in the European Championships next year, and a couple more designated mixed double handed offshore races. We're still waiting for the calendar to come out and then we'll make a plan."
"But we'll be there; wherever we can, we will join the double offshore," Kliba added.