Chris Larson and Jason Carrington rejoin Assa Abloy and Mike Howard replaces Guillermo Altadill for Leg 5 of the VOR

Chris Larson from the USA will rejoin Assa Abloy for leg five of the Volvo Ocean Race – the 4,450 nautical mile race from Rio de Janeiro to Miami. Larson, who sailed with the team on their victorious leg from Sydney to Auckland, winning the CYCA Sydney Hobart race en-route was unable to do the last leg due to sailing commitments in America.

Mikey Howard, or Big Mike as many people know him, also joins the boat, replacing Spanish crewmember, Guillermo Altadill, who’s had to return home for family reasons. Skipper Neal McDonald says that Big Mike is a very experienced sailor, as well as being good fun and very fit, he is confident that Mikey will be a great addition to the team.

McDonald will miss the wealth of experience provided by Guillermo. “He was a huge asset for us in the Southern Ocean this time, he’s done an awful lot of sailing down there and I’ve been down there with him myself a few times. He’s been with the campaign a long time, he’s helped develop the sail programme. He’s a good guy so he will be sadly missed. We are keeping an open mind and hoping that things will allow him to come back.”

Jason Carrington will also be back onboard Assa Abloy for this leg after making a good recovery from the illness during leg three from Sydney to Auckland. “It’s never nice to be sick on a boat and, when it happens quite quickly like that, it is a bit of a shock,” explains a now fit and healthy Carrington. “It was very much brought on by being stressed in Sydney, trying to get the boat together and leaving there tired. Then the Hobart was tough and we had the three-hour pit-stop and then were off again.” Of course getting sick is always horrible, but being ill on a race boat is unimaginable as well as frightening. “The worse thing about it” says Carrington “is that the watch system breaks down and you feel so hopeless. You feel you are letting everybody down and there’s nothing you can do about it. Mickey Joubert, the other bowman, for example, had to do every single sail change, so he was doing double shifts the whole time. Although he could go down below, he was fully kitted-up, lying in the bilge ready to go, and I was in his bunk and it was horrible – it just felt terrible. That was the worst part of it.”

Assa Abloy will start leg five to Miami on Saturday feeling confident and strong and definitely looking for another place on the podium.