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illbruck Team Launches AC Campaign

by Stuart Streuli on 4 Nov 2000
One of the most recognized names in grand-prix ocean racing
officially joined the chase for the 2003 America's Cup on Wednesday
when Michael Illbruck announced his company's intention to roll their
current Volvo Ocean Race campaign into a run at sailing's biggest
prize.

Illbruck, the CEO of illbruck GmbH, a worldwide plastics
manufacturer, said that the master plan for this dual-pronged effort
involves their ongoing all-out assault on the 2001-02 Volvo Ocean
Race, a one-boat, $20-million campaign for the 2003 Cup, and then
a more involved effort for the succeeding America's Cup contest.

"It's just simply impossible to say we're going to really go for this in
2003," said Illbruck during a teleconference on Wednesday. "We
want to do a very, very good job, but we think that's quite
impossible. But our view is on the 32nd America's Cup [most likely in
2006], which is what we really want to do. We're in this for the long
run."

John Kostecki, currently in charge of the illbruck-Pinta Volvo
campaign, will also head up the group's America's Cup effort. In fact,
Kostecki said that developing and keeping together a core group of
sailors, designers, and support staff was one of the reasons why
rolling the Volvo campaign into a pair of America's Cup campaign
made so much sense.

"We have a great, complete team," said Kostecki. "From design,
sailing, public relations, meteorology, all the different aspects that it
takes to have winning team in either the Volvo or the America's Cup.
We faced some difficult decisions in May, June, and July of this year
because many our top members were being actively pursued by the
other America's Cup syndicates. When we crossed the finish line in
June 2002 in Kiel, Germany, we were looking at the possibility that
our team was going to break apart. We have unique chemistry, an
all-around team. We didn't want this great team to disband after the
end of the Volvo race."

Currently, the core of this team includes the nine sailors that have
been chosen for the illbruck Volvo crew. Trimmer Ross Halcrow and
navigator Juan Vila are among the crewmembers. Only one of these
sailors, bowman Toni Kolb, is German. For the Cup campaign, Illbruck
said they plan to tap into the sailing potential in Germany and most,
if not all, of the research and design technology will come from
German companies, including the German equivalent to NASA. The
America's Cup Class boat, like their new Volvo 60, which is slated for
launch in late March 2001, will be built at the illbruck plant in
Leverkusen, Germany. However, at this time it appears that
Germany's best-known sailor, triple Olympic gold medalist Jochen
Schuemann, will not be a part of illbruck Challenge's 2003 Cup
campaign. Schuemann has reportedly signed on with Bertarelli's
Swiss syndicate.

The two America's Cup campaigns certainly give the illbruck team a
long-term focus, but for now, Kostecki and his crew are
concentrating solely on the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race, which
departs from Southampton, England, on Sept. 23, 2001. The crew
will spend the next few months training in Australia and New
Zealand, including racing in the upcoming Sydney-Hobart Race and
forays into the Southern Ocean south of New Zealand.

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