Coming second was more than enough for John Kostecki and the mainly New Zealand crew of illbruck last night as they were welcomed like heroes here. There was a sweet ending, too, for the battle-scarred backmarkers, Knut Frostad as his sodden djuice Dragons earned a leg-winner's piece of the trophy.
But, as Kostecki raised in triumph the Waterford Crystal "Fighting Finish" trophy as overall winner of the Volvo Ocean Race, the California-based American from Pittsburgh could revel in the glow of 30 months of work well done. He had won four of the nine legs outright, and, if he did not have the fastest boat all the time, he had the best, and best prepared, team.
"This was very exciting and I am pretty happy," was the spare reflection from Kostecki as he acknowledged the cheers, fireworks and carnival reception from the thousands waiting at the dock. He had already been escorted by a welcoming fleet, which rivalled one of the biggest ever seen when the eight yachts left Gothenburg, 250 miles away, 24 hours earlier.
Coming second overall was not enough for Britain's Neal McDonald, the man who almost had greatness thrust upon him when he took over, at the end of leg one to Cape Town, as skipper of Assa Abloy, which probably was the fastest boat. If there was one person he would not mind seeing ahead of him at the end of what has been a monumental task, it was his wife Lisa, skipper of the all-woman crew on Amer Sports Too. But, if there was one thing McDonald would rue, it was just how much a poor opening pair of legs cost the campaign. He notched up 47 points on the remaining seven legs to Kostecki's 45.
He squeezed past Amer Too with 20 miles to go, leaving her to battle it out for fourth place against Grant Dalton in Amer Sports One. Either place would give Dalton third overall after his two rivals, level-pegging on 40 points when they set off, both found themselves becalmed on the western side of the island of Anholt in overnight calms which ended the hopes of Kevin Shoebridge in Tyco and Jez Fanstone in News Corp. Dalton went east.
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