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illbruck Makes it Two Straight

After staging a long, hard, 6,500-mile comeback, John Kostecki’s illbruck Challenge won Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race, solidifying the Germany entry’s position at the top of the leaderboard.

December 4, 2001
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Daniel Forster

“We got on to a slow start the first night,” said Kostecki after finishing. “We took on so much water and at times we thought we were sinking. We were coming back to shore at one point and we managed to stop the leak and bailed the water out, it took us an hour and a half and we gave them a 20-mile headstart. Yeah, it was tough, but we battled back and we have a great team and we were able to come out with a victory. I’m very glad it’s over.”

Finishing 1 hour and 13 minutes after illbruck was SEB, the other green machine of the fleet, which had led for much of the closing second half of the leg. Illbruck had been stalking them for the nearly a week, and perhaps it was illbruck’s intimidation that pushed the crew of Gurra Krantz’s SEB to take one step too close to the edge. In a wild broach on Saturday, SEB exploded its masthead-reaching kite, and then flooded their bow compartment. The lead they’d been fighting to hold vanished on Saturday.

“Last night was one of those nights we will never forget,” Krantz wrote the following day. “We wiped out and shattered the spinnaker. It was very disappointing, as we had managed to get through two jibes without crashing. We were monitoring a squall and it was coming closer, just aiming for us. ’No worries,’ we thought. We’ve been clean through two bad ones earlier and saw no reason to back down on this one. This one came in with a lift and forced us to sail higher and with an angle to the waves. One wave was bigger than the other was and, in combination with an extra gust, we just spun out. Not even a chance to make it.”

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Krantz added that the situation turned from bad to worse when a spinnaker sheet jammed in the rudder, forcing them to put crewmember Tom Braidwood into the water to free it. Once underway, however, they immediately suffered from the massive gap in their sail inventory. With each position report, illbruck gained, and then there was more bad news. A bow hatch had been accidentally been opened, allowing several hundred gallons of seawater to fill the forward compartment. “A ton of water and all the garbage mixed up in it had to be emptied,” said Krantz. “We used buckets and a tail bag in the cockpit for the mission.”

Ross Field’s Team News Corp was the third team to arrive in Sydney nearly an hour after SEB. Their second third-place finish moves them into second overall in the standings, a position that Field is content with for now. “We’re very happy with third,” he said after finishing. “We’re definitely going better than we were in the first leg and with more improvement we will be there.”

As the first three arrivals enjoyed the fruits of their arrival, a heated battle was underway between Knut Frostad’s djuice dragons and Grant Dalton’s Amer Sports One. The dragons had been slowly reducing Amer’s lead, and as was the story of this leg, a boathandling error on Amer was their undoing. In full view of media helicopters, Amer accidentally jibed, and the boat rolled onto its side. Worse than the humiliation of being caught on film, Dalton, who was belowdecks was injured in the incident. Amer’s navigator and onboard medic Roger Nilson reported that Dalton may have sustained internal injuries and broken ribs.

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With their leader man down, Amer was crippled, and djuice immediately capitalized, overtaking them and finish fourth for the leg. “We were pushing a little bit too hard,” said Amer co-skipper Bouwe Bekking. “We were loosing control and it was the first time in my life that we made such a bad broach. It was the worst situation we have been in on this leg. This was a nasty one, one like this and the rig can come down and just especially when we were so close to home and we had such a good leg. We sailed very properly and we just lost control in the flood of the race.”

The final finisher for the leg was Mark Rudiger and Neal McDonald’s Assa Abloy, obviously disappointed with another poor finish. “I told the guys as we were coming in that in my mind they won this leg, they pushed hard; the boat went really fast; and it’s really Neal and I that need to put on the winning positions. It’s an easy thing to fix as we have a good boat and great crew, we just need to work on our side of things.”

The girls on Amer Sports One will continue to fight their uphill battle for several more days. At this morning’s position report, they had 627 miles to sail.

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