Monday, 2 February 2009
The team inspects the damaged area. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race.
by Victoria Low
Ericsson Racing Team plans to repair its damaged yacht, Ericsson 3, in Taiwan before it returns here to the Leg 4 stopover port of the Volvo Ocean Race.
The Nordic crew, led on Leg 4 by skipper Magnus Olsson, turned towards Taiwan in the early morning hours of Tuesday, 27th January, when they discovered the forward, watertight bulkhead flooded.
Upon reaching the port of Keelung, Taiwan, and hauling the yacht initial inspection revealed damage in the outer carbon-fiber skin, as well as delamination of both inner and outer skins in a section of the bow.
The team has decided to perform the repair work in Taiwan. The yacht is at a commercial dockyard in Keelung, but will be transported by barge down the coastline to another boatyard with the necessary facilities to affect the repair.
"The boat will be loaded onto a transport barge tomorrow and begin the trip down the coast," said navigator Aksel Magdahl.
A replacement panel for the bow is being built in Italy and will be air-freighted to the yacht in Taiwan, where it'll be scarfed and bonded into place. Once the repair is completed, the crew plans to sail the yacht to Qingdao.
"We hope Ericsson 3 can finish the leg under sail," said Richard Brisius, Ericsson Racing Team Managing Director. "By sailing to Qingdao Ericsson 3 stands to collect the 4 points available for placing fifth on the leg.
"We are in regular communication with the Race Committee to ensure that they are kept up-to-date with our plans and progress which, for obvious reasons have to remain fairly fluid and could be subject to change," Brisius continued. "It's like doing an enormous jigsaw puzzle, which has the added pressure of being against the clock."
Ericsson 3 was in second place and approximately 620 nautical miles from the finish when it suspended racing. It must return to that waypoint, approximately 60 nautical miles north of Keelung, to resume racing.
The sailing is expected to last three to five days, which might mean Ericsson 3 begins Leg 5 (Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) after the scheduled Feb. 14 start. It won't partake in the Qingdao In-Port Race, scheduled Feb. 7.
"There is still a lot of race left and we are determined to get Ericsson 3 back in it as quickly as possible," said Brisius. "The repair will take some time. It's a 24/7 challenge that's been made a bit harder by the Chinese New Year holiday. But the shore team has managed to organize a great set up, geared it up with additional boatbuilders, equipment and materials. In addition we've received great support from the local sailing authority in Taiwan, and the Ericsson Taiwan organization."
"Not everyone is in a perfect mood, but it feels like there's still positive energy in the team," said Olsson. "That energy wants to do Leg 5. If we can do it with the other boats, that would be good. There's safety in numbers, especially when you're in the Southern Ocean."
Olsson is confident in the boat and believes that the damage is a one-time incident. He does not believe that the crew will be in jeopardy when it resumes racing.
"We will not compromise, we will do a proper repair. There is safety involved," said the five-time race veteran. "We're very disappointed, but we can see the bright side as well. Even though it was a stressful leg, we still think we sailed well."
Ericsson Racing Team
Volvo Ocean Race