Saturday, 4 April 2009

VOR: Ericsson Racing Team Prepared for In-Port Race

Ericsson 3 and Ericsson 4 ready to race. Image copyright Oskar Khilborg/Ericsson Racing Team.

by Victoria Low

Barely eight days have passed since Ericsson Racing Team swept Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Now, the team is ready for the next contest of the globe-girdling race.

The Rio de Janeiro In-Port Race is scheduled for Saturday, and Ericsson's two yachts are back in the water and ready for a tune-up. Ericsson 3 and Ericsson 4 will partake in Friday's practice race in anticipation of Saturday's two races.

Last Thursday, March 26, Ericsson 3 and Ericsson 4 placed first and second into Rio after an agonizing 40-day leg from Qingdao, China. Two team members, however, say they're ready to get back on the water.

"We've had some time to rest because we haven't been allowed down to the marina," said Magnus Olsson, skipper of Ericsson 3, which won Leg 5. "We could've taken a few more days off, but we really can't complain. It's even worse for our competition, which was out there longer."

For overall race leader Ericsson 4, which placed second on Leg 5, the crew members who scattered to various parts of the world returned to Rio last night.

"We had a few guys go home, back to the UK and others to New Zealand. Those that stayed had a few relaxing days," said Stu Bannatyne, a watch captain and In-Port Race tactician for Ericsson 4.

"It wasn't a huge amount of time off, but the 40 days offshore weren't overly taxing," Bannatyne continued. "We arrived here in good shape, no one lost significant weight. So we didn't need a whole lot of recovery time to get going again."

Surprisingly, Ericsson Racing Team sailors lost few pounds during the long leg that took them across the Pacific Ocean and past Cape Horn. Team physiotherapist Joel Rewa-Morgan reported an average loss of four pounds (two kilos).

"We didn't do too badly," said Rewa-Morgan, who oversees the conditioning program. "One of the Nordic crew lost 13 pounds (six kilos), but most of that was in Taiwan. Most of the guys lost the same average of about four pounds (two kilos). Some of the guys didn't lose anything."

Ericsson 4 goes into the In-Port Race with the same crew that has been aboard for all five offshore legs. They're joined by America's Cup Class grinders Brian "Puck" MacInnes and Joe Spooner, who both missed the Qingdao In-Port Race due to conflicting commitments.

"Puck and Joe are here already," said Bannatyne. "They missed China, but are keen to get back into it. It's nice to have that AC grinder horsepower to help us out."

Ericsson 3 has some slight crew changes. Navigator Aksel Magdahl has been given a break and will miss the In-Port Race before returning for the offshore leg to Boston.

Richard Mason, the watch captain who stepped down for Leg 5 due to an injury, will fill Magdahl's spot, although not his position. That will be assumed by Magnus "Bagi" Wøxen, who sailed Leg 5. Ericsson 3's two In-Port crewmembers, tactician Rasmus Køstner and mainsail grinder Jann Neergaard, also return for the weekend.

The In-Port races have been an Achilles heel for Ericsson 3, which has performed in the middle of the pack. Olsson is determined to reverse that trend.

"We're not far from doing well, but the competition is very tough," Olsson said. "A slight hesitation or going the wrong way means you won't perform well because the competition is so tough."

The first start of tomorrow's two races is scheduled for 1600 GMT (1300 local).

(Through Leg 5)
1. Ericsson 4, 63.5 points
2. Puma, 53
3. Telefónica Blue, 50.5
4. Ericsson 3, 43.5
5. Green Dragon, 39.5
6. Telefónica Black, 21
7. Delta Lloyd, 12
8. Team Russia, 10.5

Ericsson Racing Team
Volvo Ocean Race

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