Matthew Sheahan reports from the dockside in Kiel on the last minute surprises that signaled the end of the Volvo Ocean Race

Seeing Djuice Dragons win the last leg of the Volvo Ocean Race was an impressive result proving just how unpredictable yacht racing can be. Less surprising was Illbruck’s overall victory by securing second on the last leg. Assa Abloy followed to come in third although they had secured second place overall before they had even left Gothenburg.

But while the odds of these two boats taking the first two slots were good, neither finishes marked the end of the fun for the many thousands of spectators who were afloat and ashore at the finish in Kiel.

The real surprise came just five minutes later when the girls on Amer Sports Too led Grant Dalton aboard Amer Sports One by just 300 metres as they made their final dash to the line. As we watched from the balcony of the press office you could almost feel the atmosphere aboard Dalton’s boat – this was going to be painful for all of them but particularly the skipper.

Dalt’s is always good for a quote and unfortunately for him, several people had already remembered one of his more famous statements where he had said words to the effect that if the girls beat him on any leg he’d walk down Auckland high street with a pineapple placed where it would hurt. As he approached the dock, a perfect prickly specimen was already waiting for him and Dalt’s being a man of his word stripped and performed in front of a huge cheering audience. He even managed a smile, no doubt helped by the fact that he had nevertheless secured third overall, the most hotly contested place in the race.

“Given that we were so short of time in the build up to the event I think a third is pretty acceptable for us. This time last year we didn’t even have a boat and a few days before the start I had serious doubts as to whether we would even make the race at all,” he said.

Lisa McDonald was equally delighted at having finished on a high, although she did joke that she’d felt the pressure of being sandwiched between her boss and her husband in the closing stages of the leg. By dusk SEB drifted across the line, no doubt the most frustrated crew of the fleet having been in the leading pack in the early stages of the race only to be dumped in the fickle and shifting breeze that dominated this leg.

For Tyco and News Corps, rounding up the back of the fleet was surely not what they had had in mind. Fortunately the parties ashore were only just starting.