The Volvo Restart: Baltimore/Annapolis

Racing gets underway up Chesapeake Bay against a moderate southerly

John Burnham

Shortly before the start of Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race in Annapolis, illbruck Challenge helmsman/trimmer Richard Clarke recalled the sting of the Leg 6 prize giving ceremony in Baltimore two days earlier. “It did feel weird not getting any awards, just sitting there watching the others go up on stage,” said the former Finn world champion from Canada. “So we’re fired up for sure . . . we’ll be making sure that won’t happen again.”

An hour after today’s restart, John Kostecki’s crew on illbruck were fighting their way down the Chesapeake Bay, looking for lanes in the narrow confines of the “exclusion zone,” which kept the swarm of a thousand-plus spectator craft at a safe viewing distance. Out in front, was the Nautor Challenge’s Amer Sports One with Grant Dalton at the helm.

SEB, with America’s Cup sailor Gavin Brady aboard for the leg, nailed the start and led the eight-boat fleet under the William P. Lane Jr. Memorial Bridges, but as the fleet compressed to pass under the center spans, Amer Sports One accelerated away in the 16 knots of breeze and into a small lead. Race leader illbruck gave second-place Assa Abloy a sharp luff just after passing under the bridge, but Assa proved faster after the next couple tacks and left illbruck astern, as did most of the fleet.

An hour into the race as the fleet passed the Thomas Point Light, south of Annapolis, Clarke’s prediction wasn’t looking so hot. Amer Sports One still led and held to the middle of the course, with djuice.com and Assa Abloy to the west and Tyco, Team SEB, and Team News Corp on the eastern side. They were followed by illbruck Challenge and Amer Sports Too.

But as the fleet spread out across the bay and new positions were posted on the website http://www.volvooceanrace.org, illbruck began moving back into its accustomed position, contending for the lead. At presstime in mid-afternoon, Assa Abloy, Tyco, and Illbruck held the top three spots, followed by Team News Corp., Amer Sports One, SEB, Amer Sports Too, and djuice.com.