Sailing: Injured Dalton remains resolute to stay at helm

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The Independent Online

Grant Dalton said yesterday he would have to be dragged kicking and screaming from his job as skipper of Amer Sports One in the Volvo Ocean Race.

There has been speculation among the fleet in Sydney that injuries to both the New Zealander's ribs and back towards the end of the last leg could prevent Dalton from being at the helm for the third stage, which takes in the Sydney to Hobart Race. He insists he expects to be there for the Boxing Day start.

At a party to celebrate the opening of Volvo's new national headquarters in Auckland, he told the New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, on her way to attend the funeral of Sir Peter Blake in Emsworth yesterday, that he intended to make it three in a row as the first boat into his home town.

As he took his family, including his new daughter, Olivia Anne, to his beach home for a recuperative weekend, he also confirmed that the Olympic Finn class veteran Freddie Loof would be filling the spot left open by the departure of the American Keith Kilpatrick.

Also making changes is Neal McDonald, the skipper of Assa Abloy. Gullermo Altadill returns and exchanges places with fellow-Spaniard Chuny Bermudez. He had been on board for just the second leg from Cape Town with Frenchman Herve Jan, who also returns home.

However, McDonald also announced that, except for leg four, the Annapolis-based Chris Larson will join the crew. He will be providing both strategic expertise as well as helming support for the navigator and the co-skipper, Mark Rudiger. On both legs so far, Assa Abloy has let slip good positions after choosing a slower route.