Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Ericsson 3 is moved by barge, down the coast of Taiwan from Keelung to Hualien where an 8 metre piece of the bow will be pulled out and replaced before they continue the remaining leg 4 journey to Qingdao. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.
by Dave Kneale
Ericsson 3 is being moved to the port of Hualien in Taiwan to undergo major repairs to its bow structure, the first step in the team’s gamble to finish Leg 4 and be on the start line in Qingdao for Leg 5 to Rio.
Loaded onto a 100ft steel barge and towed by a Taiwanese tugboat, the damaged boat left the port of Keelung, where the team had pulled in after suffering major structural damage and began taking on water during Leg 4.
Overnight she will travel 100 miles south around the East coast of Taiwan to Hualien, where boatbuilding facilities will allow the team to replace the damaged area with a new section which has been constructed in Italy and is expected to arrive in Taipei on Wednesday. The team is hoping the work will be completed and the boat back in the water by the middle of next week, only a few days before the start of Leg 5 on February 14th.
Herve Le Quillec, Shore Manager for Ericsson. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.
“The objective is to make the restart of Leg 5,” according to Herve Le Quillic, Ericsson Racing Team’s Shore Manager. “We know we are facing a very, very tight schedule and many issues.
"We explored different solutions; shipping the boat to Rio was one, shipping the boat to Qingdao was another. But it would have taken at least five or six days to go to Qingdao, when in five or six days we will have done half the work here in Taiwan.
“We want to score the points for Leg 4, and we want to be in the race for Leg 5. We came up with this plan, which is not ideal, but we don’t want to compromise on the safety and quality of the repair so we found a good facility here in Taiwan and decided to base ourselves here.”
Ericsson 3 will collect four points for fifth place by finishing in Qingdao. It would give them 28 points in the overall standings and elevate them above Green Dragon (27.5), which currently sits fourth.
Stand-in skipper Magnus Olsson and his crew must resume Leg 4 from the location where they suspended racing on the 27th of January, and unfavourable weather conditions could delay their progress once again.
“The downside of this solution is the trip back to Qingdao,” Le Quillec explains, “We need a good weather window. We need all the Gods with us.
“We’ll try to be on time; we want to be with the other boats on the start line and we’re all fighting for that. We’re not giving up on this idea yet.”
Ericsson 3 sets off on the barge. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.
Volvo Ocean Race