Saturday, 7 February 2009

VOR: Ericsson 4 Looks to Continue In-Port Success

Torben Grael at the press conference before the in-port race in Qingdao. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Victoria Low

Ericsson Racing Team's International crew returns to action tomorrow with the Qingdao In-Port Race, the third such event of the 2008-'09 Volvo Ocean Race.

The International crew aboard Ericsson 4, led by skipper Torben Grael of Brazil, looks to continue its strong showing with another In-Port victory. Ericsson 4 won the Singapore In-Port race last month, and has tallied 45 points overall for a 3.5-point lead over second place.

The International crew returned to work on Wednesday after having been off since finishing Leg 4 on Jan. 29. Ericsson 4 finished third on the taxing leg that strained both boat and crew, but now the focus is on a good result.

"The conditions tomorrow could be far from ideal. In today's practice race we had light winds and thick fog, so if we are lucky it could get a race in, but equally we might not race. If we do, we will have to sail conservatively and not push the boats too much," commented Ericsson 4 skipper, Torben Grael.

This In-Port race will differ from the previous one in that four boats are racing as opposed to the seven that competed last month. Leg 4 severely damaged three boats including Ericsson 3, which is undergoing repairs in Hualien, Taiwan. It will not be ready to race this weekend.

The smaller fleet will have an impact on the In-Port tactics, says Ericsson 4's Stu Bannatyne, who calls tactics for the inshore racing.

"The small fleet will probably mean that boatspeed will be important because it won't be as difficult to get clear air," Bannatyne said. "We're going to have to have good speed and good maneuvers. I imagine the fleet will stay close together because no one will want to split too much."

Team meteorologist Chris Bedford is forecasting shifting winds for Saturday, when two races are planned beginning at 1:00 pm local time. Bedford predicts light northwesterly winds in the morning shifting around to east/southeast and perhaps building to 9 to 13 knots in the afternoon. He also expects smog in the morning and fog possibly in the afternoon.

"The forecast is for light winds and possible fog as well, which might make it hard to see what's going on," said Bannatyne. "Most likely we'll be racing with the Code Zero headsails. So we'll be looking to minimize maneuvers and stay in pressure, and hopefully that'll do the job for us."

The crew list for the In-Port is largely unchanged, although the team has brought in two new grinders. Australian Rodney Daniel and Jan Dekker of South Africa replace Brian MacInnes and Joe Spooner (both have conflicting prior engagements) as grinders. The full crew list is below.

Ericsson 4 crew list, Qingdao In-Port Race
Skipper: Torben Grael (Niterói, Brazil)
Navigator: Jules Salter (Cowes, England)
Tactician: Stu Bannatyne (Auckland, New Zealand)
Mainsail trimmer: Brad Jackson (Auckland, New Zealand)
Trimmers: Horácio Carabelli (Florianópolis, Brazil), Tony Mutter (Auckland, New Zealand), João Signorini (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Pitman: David Endean (Auckland, New Zealand)
Bowmen: Ryan Godfrey (Adelaide, Australia), Phil Jameson (Auckland, New Zealand)
Grinders: Rodney Daniel (Forster, NSW, Australia), Jan Dekker (Cape Town, South Africa)
Media crewman: Guy Salter (Titchfield, England)

Ericsson Racing Team

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