Ericsson Racing Team sets sail for Volvo Ocean Race finish in Sweden
June 15, 2006
Rotterdam (NED) - It was a determined Ericsson Racing Team that left the dock in Rotterdam this morning, for the start of leg nine of the Volvo Ocean Race. After finishing second and third in the previous legs, it is hungry for a last stab at victory as it sails into its home waters in Gothenburg, Sweden, where it will be greeted by its godmother, HRH Princess Victoria of Sweden. The fleet is expected to cross the finish line late on Saturday 17 June, bringing this eight month event to a dramatic close.
The last leg of the Volvo Ocean Race kicked off at 13.00 local time out in the North Sea, in 15 knots of northerly breeze. Ericsson took a good start, and the team seemed determined to stick to its original strategy - sail offshore on starboard tack - whilst all the other boats, except Pirates, opted for the opposite tactics.
With light winds forecast, leg nine promises to be a highly tactical race, with plenty of windless patches along the way. Led by British skipper Neal McDonald (GBR), Ericsson will be tussling hard to beat ABN Amro Two and secure fourth place on the overall leaderboard, but expectations are higher as McDonald confirms:
“With ABN Amro Two it is as simple as who beats who, and the best way to achieve this would be to win the leg - if we can achieve both these goals it will be ideal.”
“You do this to come first,” confirms navigator Andrew Cape (AUS). “ABN Amro Two will be part of the equation, but winning is the thing.”
Being the only Swedish sailor in the Volvo Ocean Race, Magnus Woxén has a special incentive to achieve a good result. “I have lots of friends and family who will be cheering us on and I am very much looking forward to seeing them all in Gothenburg. This leg will be marked by some intense, close racing with the fleet, which is always fun. We will certainly give it our best shot for all our fans and sponsors.”
Ericsson is joined by Irishman Tom McWilliam, who replaces trimmer Richard Bouzaid (NZL). Born in 1967, Tom has been sailing professionally in England for the last ten years, competing in all sorts of classes. He is also a sailmaker & designer.
Chris Tibbs, meteorologist for the Ericsson Racing Team, predicts that “as the wind eases this afternoon, it will back to the northwest. There is likely to be some rain and most of the leg will be sailed in 8-13 knots of wind. During the latter part of Friday and Saturday, the only thing missing from the North Sea is isobars, which indicates that the wind may get even lighter.”
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