Saturday, 27 June 2009

VOR: Ericsson Racing Team "Full Noise" for Final Sprint to Russia

by Victoria Low

Ericsson Racing Team's places on the leaderboard are secured, but the Team's two crews are still approaching Leg 10 of the Volvo Ocean Race with verve.

"It'll be full noise again. We really want to win the leg," said Phil Jameson, bowman for overall race winner Ericsson 4. "The pressure's off now, but we'll be pushing as hard as always."

The final leg - between 400 and 500 nautical miles to St. Petersburg, Russia - is little more than a sprint in the scope of the circumnavigation race. But a leg win is a leg win, and that's all the motivation the crews need.

"Every leg is important because we're always chasing the podium," said Martin Krite, Jameson's counterpart on Ericsson 3, which has secured fourth place overall. "We're going to push as hard as we can. It'll be full on with no sleep. We want to beat the other guys and be first to St. Petersburg."

The leg is scheduled to start off Sandhamn tomorrow at 1400 local time (1200 GMT). After the requisite short lap for spectators, the course takes the fleet across the northern Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland, and past the hometown of Ericsson 3 helmsman Thomas Johanson, giving him extra motivation.

"For me it's special because we will pass Helsinki, my hometown," Johanson said. "I bet there'll be people coming offshore in boats and waving at us. We want to win because then we'll have won the shortest leg and the longest leg (Leg 5, China to Rio de Janeiro). It'd be a nice way to end the race."

The Volvo Open 70s are capable of covering the distance in less than 24 hours (Ericsson 4 holds the world record for a crewed yacht at 596.24 nautical miles), but the forecast for the leg calls for light headwinds.

The race committee wants the fleet to arrive in St. Petersburg on Saturday between 1000 and 1200 local time (0600 to 0800 GMT), but it might need electrical fans to propel the boats the final miles.

"A long-term pattern of mostly sunny and warm weather has settled across Scandinavia and the race route to St Petersburg as high pressure is building over northern and central Sweden and across to southern Finland," said team meteorologist Chris Bedford. "This high will change little over the next few days.

The wish is for the fleet to arrive in St. Petersburg on Saturday morning, but electrical fans might be needed to propel the boats the final miles.

"It'll be upwind virtually all of the way to St. Petersburg," Bedford said. "Windspeeds will be strongest in the first 12 hours, then easing slowly with time and distance north and east. It could possibly become very light prior to the finish."

(Through Stockholm In-Port Race)
1. Ericsson 4, 110.5 points
2. Puma, 98.5
3. Telefónica Blue, 92
4. Ericsson 3, 73.5
5. Green Dragon, 64
6. Telefónica Black, 50

Ericsson Racing Team
Volvo Ocean Race

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