Sunday, 15 February 2009

VOR: Odyssey Continues for Ericsson Racing Team's Nordic Crew

Ericsson 3's new cut-out livery! Image copyright Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team.

by Victoria Low

Ericsson Racing Team's Nordic crew finished Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race a couple of weeks late and started Leg 5 a few hours late, but that hasn't diminished skipper Magnus Olsson's ebullience.

Ericsson 3 arrives in Qingdao. Image copyright Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team.

"They saw us," Olsson said, referring to the three boats that took the scheduled start of Leg 5 at 1300 local (0500 GMT). "And I saw they were sheeting on the sails because they're afraid we're going to catch up. I saw how they tried to go faster when they saw us."

Ericsson 3 started Leg 5 at 1950 local, but having achieved its primary goal of finishing Leg 4. Ericsson 3 crossed the finish line at 1801 to collect the 4 points available for placing fifth. Ericsson 3 has 28 points overall, and trails fourth-placed Green Dragon by 2 points.

The finish completed an odyssey that started on Jan. 27 when the bow forward of the watertight bulkhead was found flooded. Later inspection revealed damage to the outer carbon-fiber skin, as well as delamination of both inner and outer skins.

Ericsson 3 spent two weeks in Taiwan making repairs, and when it arrived in Qingdao it had new graphics on the blue hull and orange bow: a white, dashed line around the new piece of hull with scissors mocking the cut out.

Instead of the celebratory bottle of champagne for finishing a leg, the crew made a beeline for the dock where new sails, a spare fuel tank, extra fuel, a slew of food bags, extra clothing and extra sailors waited. After less than two hours, the crew pushed off to join Leg 5, 12,300 nautical miles to Brazil.

"I feel very confident with the boat. The boatbuilders are fantastic," Olsson said. "I never felt, even though it was a rush, I never felt they'd rush and send us out if they weren't happy. There was one day a few things went wrong so they had to redo that. They said it was only 90 percent good and wanted it 100 percent. We were six hours delayed perhaps, but it doesn't matter."

The shore crew get Ericsson 3 ready for departure in Qingdao. Image copyright Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team.

The Nordic crew's deficit to the fleet was minimized because of the light winds the three boats battled for most of the afternoon. But the Nordics still had to complete the 5-nautical-mile circuit along Qingdao's headlands and beaches before heading out to open sea. And, much to their chagrin, the wind had died away again to 6 knots or less.

That didn't seem to matter to Magnus and the Nordics, who were happier with their finish than Jason and the Argonauts when they discovered the Golden Fleece.

"I think I've done 40 legs in the Whitbread/Volvo and I've never abandoned one. I've always finished. And this feels like the best finish I've ever made," Olsson said dockside.

"We are fifth and pick up 4 points, and the reason is our fantastic boatbuilders and shore team," Olsson continued. "They never gave up when it was very hopeless. They were battling on and wanted us to finish in time for the next start. We almost made it. It feels bonus to be here. I'm so happy to be here."

A jubilant Magnus Olsson. Image copyright Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team.

Skipper: Magnus Olsson
Navigator: Aksel Magdahl
Watch Captains: Thomas Johanson, Olsson
Helmsman: Eivind Melleby
Trimmer/Helmsman: Aarve Rooas
Trimmers: Martin Stromberg, Magnus Woxen
Pitman: Jens Dolmer
Mastman: Anders Dahlsjo
Bowman: Martin Krite
Media crewman: Gustav Morin

Ericsson Racing Team

Volvo Ocean Race

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