Kiwis in Control...


Ed Gorman reports from Auckland on a tactically challenging start to leg four of the Volvo Ocean Race...
Given all the hoopla about the future of the Volvo Ocean Race and the fact that it is allegedly going out of fashion, the first thing to report on was the size of the spectator fleet at the Auckland re-start. Much has been made of the fact that the re-starts and finishes of the Volvo have been under-attended, leading many pundits to conclude that the race is in a crisis of some kind and that people aren't interested in it any longer. If Volvo's own press releases are to be believed, '45,000 people' attended the Viaduct Basin to watch the crews cast off and then, on the way out to the starting area in the Rangitoto Channel, the 'headlands were black with people'. Volvo also claimed the spectator fleet was the 'largest on-water spectator fleet seen so far' in this race. While the first two assessments about the numbers of people are almost certainly exaggerations, the Volvo guesstimate on the spectator fleet may have been about right. But these things are very hard to judge. On the press boat from which I watched the start, local Kiwis said they thought many people, who otherwise might have come out to see the event, had gone out of town for the long Auckland Anniversary weekend. The general feeling among the locals was that interest was down on previous years, but not hugely. Some suggested there may have been fewer boats but that there were more bigger ones with more people on them, so the total numbers of people may have been close to years gone by. All one can say for sure is that Auckland certainly turned out in force for the Volvo and that, equally, there was no sense in which the City of Sails turned its back on the race. The start took place

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