This morning in Gothenburg, the crew of illbruck looked eerily relaxed, considering their nine-month lead in the Volvo Ocean Race was at on the line. Skipper John Kostecki had rallied his crew, and tactician Ed Adams had flushed his nerves of any anxiety. “It will be good,” was all that Adams could offer before his team motored out of their slip.
Two hours later, as the fleet of eight set spinnakers on starboard jibe in a 10-knot easterly and sailed cleanly across the line, illbruck was in the pole position at the pin end, sailing with solid speed towards the western fringe of the spectator fleet.
Grant Daltons Amer Sports One jibed immediately after the start, followed closely astern by Lisa McDonalds Amer Sports Too; the rest held starboard jibe until reaching the spectator fleet. After its first jibe, illbruck crossed the fleet, and from there, they extended with clear air. The others traded jibe after jibe, the disturbed air slowing their progress down the prop-churned channel. Thirty minutes into the race, Assa Abloy, unable to break away into a clean lane separated from the fleet and sailed to the western side of the channel. Once they came back, they found themselves in the mix again.
An hour after the start, illbruck was on its own, more than a mile ahead, and it got easier for them from there. As the easterly died and the southerly sea breeze filled as forecast, they were the first to swap spinnaker for headsail and sail cleanly away, followed well astern by SEB, and Amer Sports One. Both Assa Abloy and Amer Sports Too were caught off guard by the sea breeze, and both sailed for several minutes without a headsail. As the sea breeze settled in and the lead boats rounded the Trubaduren Light, Assa Abloy–illbrucks only threat–was last and struggling to gain pace in the wind shadow of the Amer Sports One.