Ericsson back on form and ready for some serious racing on Saturday 2/2/06

Having been forced to retire from Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race with keel problems The Ericsson Racing Team is back out on the water again after almost a month on dry land. The Ericsson Racing Team was out training in Port Phillip Bay earlier today in preparation for Saturday’s in-port race in Melbourne.

Inshore tactician John Kostecki (US) has arrived to take command of the team during the weekend’s racing. Commenting on Kostecki’s role, skipper Neal McDonald (GBR) said: “Kostecki is very much the man in charge for the in-port. He’s been with us since the start and he’s got a good strength in both offshore and inshore racing. As a tactician he’s second to none and I’m very pleased to have him on the team. Neither of us have done a huge amount of sailing in the Bay, but we will go out there and take it on.”

Ericsson returned to the water on Wednesday and the crew headed out to check all the systems onboard are in good working order – from the mast, to the rig and the canting keel system. Every single piece of titanium equipment on the boat has been scanned.

“The boat is in great shape and today we started crew training,” commented Spanish team member, Guillermo Altadill. “The team spirit is good – everyone is fully charged both physically and mentally and we will go out there and give it our best shot.”

Magnus Olsson (SWE), Ericsson’s Technical Director and five times Whitbread / Volvo Ocean Race veteran, played an integral role on the water today. Charged with laying the buoys and offering expert advice to the crew, Olsson is optimistic about the future. “The chemistry between the crew is strong and on the technical side we have come to good decisions on how to overcome our problems.”

Kostecki adde: “We are focusing hard on crew work and getting into race mode. Difficult times can make you a stronger team and everyone is keen to get out racing again.”

The course for Saturday’s in-port race will be a three or four windward/leeward legs depending on the wind conditions. Tactician John Kostecki predicts the following conditions:

“The forecast is for a light gradient wind but if we get some heating inland, there will be a thermal effect. The wind could build to 15-20 knots as the sea breeze fills in from the South. We’re expecting a more stable breeze than we had for the Sanxenxo and Cape Town in-port races, and not much of a tidal influence. It’s a closed bay so it will be fairly sheltered from the swell and more like sailing on a lake.”