ASSA take leg three

ASSA ABLOY win leg three of the Volvo Ocean Race

Friday January 4th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Australasia

From leaving Hobart, there was a battle royal between illbruck, Tyco and News Corp. This culminated in Kevin Shoebridge's Tyco taking a much-needed third place, arriving at 20:18:39GMT, illbruck fourth four minutes later and and News Corp, in fifth, two minutes later. "It's been a matter of only 500 metres between a great day and a bad day," joked Shoebridge on his arrival.

10 miles from the finish Tyco broke from the pack and went offshore. This left illbruck with the dilemma of whether to go with them or stick with News Corp, their main rivals on points. For all three boats the sleighride south down the coast was nervewracking in the extreme as the crews pushed their boats to the limit.

"Part of it was because we were half out of control and we wanted to do as little gybes as possible, so we decided to go outside Tiri Island, as opposed to inside," commented Kevin Shoebridge. "The other two went inside and we ended up with a much better angle coming into the finish." Shoebridge added that it was fortunate that it went light for illbruck and News Corp on the final approaches. "The breeze actually started going against us. Luckily the pressure held, it went light for them and we came through underneath. It was fantastic and a huge relief when it paid off, as the leg had been a bit of a disappointment up until then - we had struggled through the Tasman Sea against illbruck, so it was nice to be able to come back."

Although tactics paid off for Tyco in the end, Shoebridge admitted that illbruck still seemed to be faster during a period of the leg when it was blowing 25 knots. "They were a step above us, and neither News Corp nor us could hang on to them. We need to figure out why that is - it could be boat design or sails."

For John Kostecki on illbruck, as well as his crew - half of whom are NZ natives - there was some disappointment that such a tight contest had left them in fourth place (although overall race leader still after three legs). "We made some tactical errors going into Hobart and got caught in hole there and then leaving Hobart we got behind Assa and Amer Sports One right on the first day. We made some tactical and navigational errors there and then coming in here we made a few mistakes as well. But we will live and learn from it and we will be better next leg."

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