Thursday, 12 February 2009
Ericsson 3 leaves the shed in Hualien. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson Racing Team.
by Victoria Low
Ericsson 3 departed Hualien, Taiwan, today at approximately 2000 local time (1200 GMT) bound here for the finish of Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Aboard the yacht were seven members of the Nordic crew, including skipper Magnus Olsson, navigator Aksel Magdahl, boat captain Jens Dolmer, helmsman Thomas Johanson, Anders Dahlsjo, Martin Krite, Martin Stromberg and media crewman Gustav Morin.
Olsson and mates must return to the waypoint about 60 nautical miles north of Taiwan where they suspended racing on Jan. 27 before they officially resume racing. If all goes well the crew should reach the waypoint in six to eight hours.
After two weeks of hard work the boat is repaired and now there will be a race against time to reach Qingdao in time for the start of Leg 5 on Saturday.
"We have really worked like maniacs," said Olsson. "The boatbuilders and sailors have fought around the clock and now we're back on track. I really want to give all the guys credit for a fantastic job."
The goal is to finish Leg 4 and collect the 4 points available for being the fifth boat to Qingdao.
The new panel fitting into place. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson Racing Team.
Team meteorologist Chris Bedford is predicting a relatively fast passage, raising hopes that the crew might finish with enough time to load the boat and begin Leg 5 to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with the other four boats in the fleet.
"Eighty-percent will likely be in following breeze," said Bedford, "but it might be feast or famine. There's an area where they're likely to experience 30 or 35 knots, but at least it'll be from the south. Then there's an area about 100 miles out where they'll experience northerlies, which might slow them down. But if they're able to sail the boat near 100 percent, they could be in late Friday night or early Saturday morning."
Thomas Johanson putting finishing touches to the repair. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson Racing Team.
It's been a race against odds for the past two weeks to get Ericsson 3 repaired, back in the water and to Qingdao in time for the start of Leg 5, but now it looks possible.
"We are not thinking anything about how cold the trip can be and we are definitely not worrying about the strong winds we will have going up there," Olsson said. "We are just so happy to be back. At the same time, we must keep it all together.
"But if the weather forecast is correct then our navigator, Aksel, thinks it will take us about 50 hours to get to Qingdao. That could mean that we will be there the night between Friday and Saturday - in time for the start of Leg 5," said the ever-ebullient Olsson.
Ericsson Racing Team
Volvo Ocean Race