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Ericsson Racing Team ready to embark on leg five with fresh crew


1 April 2006 - The fifth offshore leg of the Volvo Ocean Race starts tomorrow at 13:10 local time in Rio de Janeiro (BRA). The 5,000 mile leg will take the six-strong fleet to Baltimore (USA), via the southeast and northeast trade winds, through the doldrums and along the strong currents of the Gulf Stream. A superb and difficult challenge, which the Ericsson Racing Team is ready to embrace.

It has been a busy stopover for the Ericsson Racing Team, with crew changes bringing new energy to the team, and a strong focus on sail development. John Kostecki (USA) joins the team as skipper for leg five, bringing with him sail trimmer Ross Halcrow (NZL).

“For our team onboard Ericsson, this stopover has been special,” comments Kostecki. “We have managed to accomplish our goal of being on the podium in the in-port race, and we have also made a few crew changes. It’s quite refreshing, as it brings a new energy to the team, which will hopefully help us improve from now on. We’ve done a lot of work on improving the sail programme too.”

The shore team has been flat out preparing the boat for the next leg and all of the electronic equipment has had to be replaced following the lightening strike on the approach to Rio. A number of sails have been re-cut and new sails have been added to the inventory.

“This stopover is definitely a turning point,” confirms Neal McDonald. “Half of the points available have been distributed and it is the end of ice and massive storms. We also have a lot of new sails for this leg; we planned this from the beginning as we knew there would be a lot of reaching between Rio and Baltimore.”

Tomorrow, as they leave Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, the teams will be heading for the south-easterly trade winds. The start will be important, as the scoring gate of Fernando de Noronha is only 1200 miles away. “There will be two races in one”, comments Ericsson crewmember Guillermo Altadill (ESP). “The first one is a three days sprint, so we will work very hard towards this first goal.”

The fifth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race will provide almost everything sailing has to offer, from beautiful trade wind sailing to dead calms, showers and thunderstorms. It will end up in the Chesapeake Bay (USA), very possibly in “lottery type” sailing. Indeed, all the skippers agree to the fact that the winner won’t be known until it crosses the finish line. “It’s going to be a real challenge”, says Kostecki. “There are lots of shoals, crab pots and variable winds because you are surrounded by land on both sides. I’ve sailed up the Chesapeake three or four times and I’ve struggled with it.”

The boats are expected to arrive into Baltimore between the 17-19 April.


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