Ericsson 3 is under the most pressure as the team works frantically to complete repairs in Taiwan

The three teams that didn’t finish leg four of the Volvo Ocean Race – yet (in one case) – are all working hard to re-join it. For Delta Lloyd and Telefonica Black, they must ship the boats to Rio de Janeiro and complete repairs there in order to race in leg five. In the case of Ericsson 3, it’s a race against time to fix the damage to their boat, finish leg four, and start leg five – perhaps in time to race with the rest of the fleet.

Ericsson 3 is under the most direct time pressure. The team is working frantically to complete repairs to its delaminated hull so that they can re-join the race in time for the leg five start. In part, it’s an effort to be competitive in the leg by starting with the others. But equally, it’s a question of safety. Being with the rest of the fleet through the Southern Ocean adds an additional safety layer to the leg for all of the teams.

Over the weekend, Gustav Morin, the media crew member aboard Ericsson 3 reported on the progress of repairs with a positive note: “The new piece has been shaped and fitted onto the boat. There is no longer a hole in Ericsson 3!”
On Monday, he said the small team working in Taiwan had been bolstered by reinforcements – nearly the full has arrived to complete the final stages of the repairs and to get the boat ready to race to Qingdao…and beyond.

“Our boatbuilders are still working around the clock and today almost the entire crew gathered here in Hualien, Taiwan. They have finished what needs to be prepared in China for the long leg and can now be reinforcements,” he wrote.

“Everyone is helping to make this happen and we are just taking short breaks for eating and sleeping; we really hope this hard work will pay off. All the guys are pretty tired. In times like that people usually make mistakes. Maybe it was from tiredness that Rick Douglas yesterday nearly lost his finger. He slipped with a grinding machine, cut his forefinger open and had to do seven stitches.”

Despite the mishap, the team is aiming to leave as soon as possible. As if they needed any more motivation, the Ericsson Racing Team meteorologist, Chris Bedford, says the sooner they get going, the better the weather window will be for completing the trip to Qingdao, which could take two days in favourable conditions, or upwards of three days if the wind Gods are against them.

“The earlier they leave the better. They could leave in a 25 to 30 knot southerly,” he said on Tuesday. “The later they are, the more likely they’ll run into a northerly change. We think that might happen when they’re about halfway here, but if they’re delayed (in leaving) then it will happen earlier.”

For Magnus Olsson, who will continue as skipper beyond the leg four finish and through at least leg five into Rio, this kind of pressure is simply part of the game. “You are under pressure all the time, not the least if the boat breaks. The shore crew is enormously important to make a team win and just to keep the boat in the race,” he said. “What we are trying to do now is almost impossible. But we are going to make it!”