illbruck and Amer fight to the finish


Ed Gorman reports from Cape Town on a leg from which it is dangerous to draw conclusions
It was a windy and dark Cape Town that welcomed the first two boats in the Volvo Ocean Race. Although Volvo has done a lot more to promote the event in South Africa than Whitbread ever did, there were still only a few hundred people - few of them locals - who turned out to watch John Kostecki and the crew of Illbruck come alongside. Talking to Kostecki, one of his navigators Ian Moore and then later to Grant Dalton, skipper of Amer Sports One, the clear impression one got is that the first leg is almost certainly going to prove a misleading indicator in terms of how the rest of the nine-stage race will develop. The meteorological options after the leading boats rounded the island waypoint of Trindade off the Brazilian coast were unclear and very difficult to unravel, and yet proved decisive and all three men used the word "luck" to describe what happened. With some weather models suggesting east was best for breeze, Illbruck initially went that way but then bailed out quickly enough to recover when it turned soft - a key move for them. Amer Sports One went south immediately - something Dalton has ascribed to gut-instinct and experience - a move which propelled him from fifth to first and secured his runner's-up spot in the leg overall. Behind him Assa Abloy went east and got crucified, Tyco did a little better but both those boats can consider themselves unlucky at that point. Dalton, assessing his own chances and those of the rest of the fleet, seemed happy to acknowledge that second place in Cape Town could be an unreliable result for Amer Sports One. He said the real fleet ranking was the one in force before the Trindade lottery when Illbruck led from Assa in second, then Tyco,

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