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Culture

The Show Goes On

For the first time ever, a German boat has won the Volvo Ocean Race around the world. But the challenge continues for the illbruck. Owner Michael Illbruck wants to enter his vessel in the America's Cup.

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Rapturous fans accompanied the illbruck into the finish line at Kiel Bay.

The toughest and longest ocean regatta is over. Escorted by a large flotilla of inflatable runabouts, pleasure craft, ferries and yachts, Germany's illbruck won the Volvo round the world race. It finished second in the ninth and final stage from Gothenburg, Sweden to Kiel, Germany on Sunday.

The German boat won four of the nine legs, giving it a slight lead of five points over closest rival Assa Abloy heading into the final leg. However, their second-place finish gave the team seven points to take it to 61 in total - and enough to clinch the overall title.

While the champagne still flows at the celebrations in Kiel, owner Michael Illbruck has announced that he will enter the vessel in the 32nd America's Cup in 2005/2006. "And we want to win the America's Cup in 2006," he said.

He said he wants to keep the core team together and take part in the competition under the name "Pinta-Challenge".

New popularity for sailing

But realizing this dream is not that easy. Illbruck spent several million euro of his family-owned company's funds to finance participation in the Volvo race. "The family council has now put a stop to this," he said. "Not one more euro out of the company will go towards sailing."

Illbruck needs to raise about 90 million euro for his America's Cup campaign. He plans on seeking financial support from partners and sponsors. "We have proven that we have the best team," he said.

The German Sailing Federation DSV in Hamburg says it sees good perspectives for Illbruck's goal. According to director Gerhard Philipp Süss, the Volvo Ocean Race has boosted interest in the sport.

"Sailing was never really a media sport," he told DW-WORLD. "During the Volvo race, there was more reporting on sailing than ever before." This had moved the sport more into the public eye. "We have since noticed a strong rise in interest, both in our federation, as well as in member organizations."

Teamwork made the difference

The Volvo Ocean Race - which kicked off in Southampton, England on September 23, 2001- covered 32 700 nautical miles, visiting 10 ports and racing through four oceans.

The illbruck, skippered by John Kostecki, finished more than 30 minutes behind stage winner djuice from Denmark. "We knew what were up against and what we had to do," Kostecki said. "We prepared for it and the team did a great job. At the end of the day, it's the teamwork from on shore to the sailing team."

The German-backed team was followed by hundreds of spectator boats, some from as far out as 70 miles from the finish. Exuberant fans greeted the crew as they docked. "It was amazing. I've never seen anything like it before in my life," Kostecki said. "It's so hard to explain to anybody that isn't here the amount of support we have."

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