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banner Tuesday, 8 January, 2002, 10:15 GMT
British skipper takes Volvo win
Assa Abloy takes leg three of the Volvo Open Race
Assa Abloy won leg three to break Illbruck's dominance
British skipper Neal McDonald has helped Assa Abloy to victory in leg three of the Volvo Ocean Race in Auckland.

McDonald only took over the captaincy after leg one from Southampton to Cape Town, but has had an immediate impact.

His team took line honours in the famous Sydney to Hobart race and then made an enforced three-hour pitstop before heading off towards New Zealand.

Neal (left) and Lisa (right) McDonald embrace after leg one
Neal and Lisa McDonald are both Volvo skippers

Despite being becalmed almost within sight of the finish, McDonald held his nerve and steered Assa to a stage win worth eight points in the round-the-world race standings.

Grant Dalton came in second in Amer Sports One, having battled back from an injury sustained during leg three.

Team Tyco produced the fastest finish to pip overall points leader Illbruck for third, while Britain's other skipper Jez Fanstone steered News Corp home in fifth place.

Djuice finished late on Thursday, days ahead of the all-female crew aboard Amer Sports Too, which is skippered by McDonald's American wife Lisa.

  Overall standings:
1 Illbruck - 21
2 Amer Sports One - 18
3 News Corp - 16
4 Assa Abloy - 15
5 Tyco - 12
6 SEB - 11
7 Djuice - 10
8 Amer Sports Too - 5

Her jubilant husband admitted to fatigue at dockside.

"We're all very tired as two of our top guys were down.

"Magnus Olsson, watch leader and the most experienced guy on the boat was down and wasn't on deck from Hobart and Jason was down after just a day, so we were very short of manpower.

McDonald felt the pressure from local hero Dalton in the closing stages.

"He's probably the worst man in the world to have behind you coming into Auckland.

Assa Abloy sailed a really good race - they took it right out of Hobart, they sailed very hard and have done a fantastic job
Grant Dalton

"He's got a good reputation for being a come-back king and we were aware that if anyone was going to catch us it would have been him."

Dalton, meanwhile, was noble in defeat.

"Assa Abloy sailed a really good race. They took it right out of Hobart, they sailed very hard and have done a fantastic job.

"So congratulations to them and to Neal, they really deserved it."

Fanstone could not fault News Corp's performance but was disappointed with the result, having lost places late on.

"We were top three with four hours to go and we didn't quite get the breaks towards the end.

  Leading finishers:
1 Assa Abloy
2 Amer Sports One
3 Tyco
4 Illbruck
5 News Corp
6 Djuice
7 Amer Sports Too

"I guess it's disappointing but we are not disappointed in the performance, just the result."

Sweden's SEB, the eighth boat in the race, withdrew from the third leg after damaging its rudder during the Hobart race.

It is expected to take part in the fourth leg that leaves Auckland for Rio de Janeiro on 27 January.

The Volvo Ocean Race, which began in Southampton on 23 September, ends in Kiel, Germany, in June.

After traversing the Southern Ocean to Rio de Janeiro, the yachts set sail for Miami, Baltimore, France and Sweden.

Guy Swindells reports for BBC Sport
"This has been a remarkable leg for the Assa Abloy"
Assa Abloy skipper Neal McDonald
"It was a tough leg physically and emotionally"
Links to more Sailing stories are at the foot of the page.


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