Failure to the hydraulic keel movement system forces Neal McDonald and team aboard Ericsson Racing to return to South Africa

Early this morning, Ericsson was sailing at 10 knots, in 15-20 knots of
wind, when a part of the keel movement system broke. Ericsson was in
second place when the incident occurred and her boat speed was reduced to
allow the crew to inspect the damage. She is now heading back towards
South Africa in order to consider the best course of action. The crew is
in no danger.

Ericsson was beating on port tack when a part of the keel movement system
broke. The initial finding is that the piston rod has broken close to the
clevis on one of the two hydraulic cylinders that control the canting of
the keel. The crew has decided to return towards South Africa in order to
replace the broken part and continue racing if possible. All of the crew
is safe and well, and the boat is currently running at 10 knots in 15
knots of wind speed, with the keel locked in the central position.

Ericsson Racing Team skipper Neal McDonald commented: “We first became
aware of the failure at about 01.00 GMT when we heard an unidentified
bang, that later we identified as a failure to one of our piston rods. We
are obviously disappointed but at the same time we are keen to sort this
out as quickly as possible in order to continue sailing in the Volvo Ocean

Ericsson’s shore team is preparing for action, in order to carry out the
necessary repairs as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Volvo Ocean Race Chief Executive, Glenn Bourke, commented: “Obviously in
coming up with the brand-new open 70 design, we realised that we were
producing a boat that would be at the cutting edge of ocean racing. So far
the boats have lived up to expectations in terms of speed and performance.
The issues experienced with canting keels have been around for some
considerable time and are not unique to the Volvo Open 70 design. In the
case of Ericsson, until we know the full nature of the current problem it
would be premature for us to comment any further. In each case where
there have been keel related issues on our boats, there has been a ready
flow of information between syndicates to fully understand and overcome
any problems and I am confident that this communication will continue.”