And they're off...

Grant Dalton's Amer Sports One leads as John Kostecki's illbruck Challenge falters. John Greenland reports from Rio

Saturday March 9th 2002, Author: John Greenland, Location: Transoceanic
It was a clash of the non-Farr designed boats here in Rio de Janeiro at the start of leg five in the Volvo Ocean Race.

Grant Dalton's Amer Sports One led from Knut Frostad's djuice from the start line, however it wasn't long before the pink dragons were reeling in the Frers designed V.O.60.

John Kostecki's race leader illbruck was sandwiched off of the starting blocks, with dirty air from the Amer Sports One forcing the German entry to tack clear on to port tack. Kevin Shoebridge's Tyco, in a similar situation with djuice, was also forced to tack to clear. Unfortunately for the two port tack teams the left hand side of the course was paying.
The biggest surprise to the hundreds of spectator boats filling the Baia da Guanabana was Lisa McDonald's impressive fourth place position as the teams battled their way toward the first passing mark just outside of the bay's entrance. The all-women team held their lane well and showed four of the boys teams they really could do it given the right conditions and enough practice.

John Kostecki was clearly upset with his team's slow start and, after finding a clear lane, managed to work the boat up into second place behind djuice as the two boats rounded the windward mark. However, djuice proved too fast, again pulling away from illbruck - dealing out a health amount of dirty air to boot. The illbruck team were again forced on to the unfavourable side of the course, dropping back to fourth place as the team sailed clear of Rio de Janeiro.

It was Grant Dalton's Amer Sports One back in the lead as the boats sailed between two islands and into the Atlantic Ocean. The wind, now stablising at around 12 knots, gave Dalts the push he needed and a favourable wind shift as they converged with djuice.

There may be another 4,500nm of racing left as the teams chase along the east coast of Brazil and on into the Caribbean, but both Dalton and Frostad will be happy in the knowledge their boats are now on the pace in conditions the teams are likely to see for a large proportion of this leg.

The biggest drama of the day was Amer Sports Too crewwoman Bridget Suckling being told just minutes before the boat was due to leave the dock that she was going to stay ashore for this leg, due to her suffering from the 'flu.

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