Tag Archive | "Ericsson Racing Team"

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Having a "Chinese" at 36 knots

Posted on 28 October 2010 by Valencia Sailing

There must be little doubt, after watching the video, that the media people at the Volvo Ocean Race did a fantastic job in the 2008-9 edition of the round-the-world race, in particular with the establishment of the compulsory MCM (Media Crew Member) onboard each participating yacht.

This first clip (part 1 of 2) illustrates Ericsson 4′s wipeout in the Southern Ocean and the period after, as the crew battles to keep everything under control and jury rig the boat so that they can keep racing.

Guy Salter was the MCM on the boat and does a great job of keeping the camera rolling while Phil Jameson gives an excellent explanation of what happened and the subsequent action taken by the crew.

The only negative part of all this mind-boggling quantity of excellent video footage is that we might become like the Japanese tourists in the 1980′s. They spent their life taking thousands of photos of every single tourist attraction in the world, needing another life to look at the photos they snapped.

Having a “Chinese” at 36 knots in the Southern Ocean. Video copyright Volvo Ocean Race

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James Dadd, VOR Chief Measurer, talks to Valencia Sailing

Posted on 21 October 2009 by Valencia Sailing

Following our recent interview with Juan Kouyoumdjian, Valencia Sailing talked to James Dadd, VOR Chief Measurer, and got his reaction.

Valencia Sailing: Can you tell us what position you held in the 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race? Have you held similar positions in other major international sailing events?
James Dadd: I was the Chief Measurer of the Volvo Open 70 Rule, and chairman of the Rule Management Group (RMG), who wrote the class rules, interpreted them, amended them, measured the boats, established rule compliance and issued certificates. I also held this position in the 2005-2006 race, and also worked as a measurer for the 2001-2002 race. I was also on the Measurement Committee for the 2000, 2003 & 2007 America’s Cups, although very much an apprentice for the 2000 Cup. I am also the Chief Measurer for the Royal Ocean Racing Club, for whom I have worked for nearly 12 years.

Valencia Sailing: Were you personally involved with the measurement of the two Ericsson Racing yachts?
James Dadd: Yes. The RMG was a small body with only 3 people measuring the boats. We all worked together on all of the boats.

Valencia Sailing: Were the measurers and/or the VOR organization in general negatively predisposed towards Ericsson Racing?
James Dadd: Absolutely not. It is fundamental to this job that every competitor is treated equally. Sometimes competitors get a bit paranoid, thinking we are only looking at them in detail, but that most definitely was not the case. We looked at everyone in more detail last race than ever before.

Valencia Sailing: Juan Kouyoumdjian in his interview stated two issues: “First, the penalty Ericsson 3 received before race start for the keel and, second, the prohibition of using on Ericsson 4 the keel we had designed for her”. What’s your opinion on that? He also states that measurers “manipulated” the operation. Did you do anything unlawful?
James Dadd: Of course not, why on earth would we do that? The only reason we wouldn’t issue certificates to any boat with such keels fitted was that they didn’t comply with the rules. In the E3 case the ISAF Jury ruled that we had acted appropriately, and in the E4 case I think the team realised there wasn’t a hope in hell that it was a rule compliant keel, so went to plan B. There were a number of aspects with that keel that were in conflict with the rules as written. Russell Green spent a considerable amount of time going through all of the correspondence and was perfectly happy that we had done more than needed in trying to resolve the situation before anyone set up in Alicante. I have absolutely no doubt that we acted correctly.

Valencia Sailing: He also openly claims that “the document submitted by the Chief Measurer to the Jury was forged”. What document was that?
James Dadd: I haven’t got a clue, but I would love to see it!!

Valencia Sailing: Right before the in-shore regatta in Singapore Juan Kouyoumdjian claims you spent 4 days in the shed, trying to prove Ericsson 4 was 1.2mm too long. The jury then rejected your claim. Was she really 1.2mm too long?
James Dadd: Actually the length measurement did not form part of the protest. The protest we instigated was based around the fact that the team had removed a section of the hull, with one of our measurement screws in it, and replaced the section, and the screw, without telling us so that we could measure the completed hull prior to the start of the race. The precise location of this screw affected the length, draft and floatation measurements. This was a clear oversight, not intentional, but we had to act and take it to the jury to retain the validity of the measurement process. The Jury found that actually the rules implied the measurement was then invalid, but didn’t explicitly state it, so the protest was rejected. This was an eye opener for us and I hope it has helped to improve the rules. I think the jury made the right decision, but whatever, you have to accept the jury’s decision and abide by it.

At the end of the day the boys on E4 deserved their win and those on E3 also did exceptionally. I will never forget shacking Magnus Olsson’s hand as he stepped ashore in Rio.

It is always the job of the competitor to push the rules, and our job to keep them honest. Disagreements happen, but there is no point in taking things personally, it is only a yacht race!!

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Juan Kouyoumdjian talks to Valencia Sailing about the Volvo Ocean Race, the TP52 class and the America’s Cup (part I)

Posted on 08 October 2009 by Valencia Sailing

Who else to talk about the Volvo Ocean Race other than Juan Kouyoumdjian, the Argentinean yacht designer whose designs won two consecutive races, first with ABN AMRO 1 in 2005-6 and then with Eircsson 4 in 2008-9. We met him in his Valencia office for a very interesting discussion and in this 1st part, Kouyoumdjian talks about the details of his last campaign with Ericsson.

The second installment of the interview will appear next week and Kouyoumdjian will talk about his involvement in the TP52 class and the AUDI Medcup circuit in 2010 and briefly comment on the current situation in the America’s Cup.

Valencia Sailing: Two victories in two consecutive Volvo Ocean Races. What is the key? Is Juan K the best designer or do the best teams choose Juan K design?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: First of all, races are won by crews. We, as yacht designers, can only contribute as much as we can to making their job easier, but ultimately it’s a sport, a sailing event and it’s up to crew to win. I give full credit to the crew of Ericsson 4 that managed to win the race. I’m sure they would have won the race with another boat as well, particularly Ericsson 3.

Valencia Sailing: Do you mean that Telefonica could have also won had they chosen you as their yacht designer?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: It’s very difficult to say that and this is a very conditional, speculative question. We were very happy with the boats we did, the crews were very happy with the boats we did for the them. Unfortunately, the boats that took part in the race were not the boats we had designed, neither Ericsson 4 nor 3. They were greatly handicapped by the measurers before the race start and in the case of Eircsson 4, during the race.

Valencia Sailing: Can you give us more details on that claim?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Yes, the boats were designed with approximately 350 kg of more bulb weight than they actually ended up racing with and the arguments the measurers used to get rid of that weight from the bulbs were completely arbitrary. It’s not a matter of my opinion against theirs, I claim that because I can prove it and I can prove that they acted in a nonprofessional way. There are two issues here. First, the penalty Ericsson 3 received before race start for the keel and, second, the prohibition of using on Ericsson 4 the keel we had designed for her. These two points are still an argument of discussion here in my office and it’s something we still have deep embedded in our veins. We still are very angry about it and I hold the measurement group of the VOR responsible for having manipulated that operation.

Valencia Sailing: That question was intended to come later but since you touched the issue I’ll bring it up. I have here with me the jury decision of October 2nd, 2008, concerning precisely the issue of the Ericsson 3 bulb. Did you cheat, did you play with the word “solid”?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: No, we didn’t play with the notion of the word “solid” at all. The question here is not the definition of the word “solid” and everybody agrees on its definition. The real question is what the definition of the word “solid” applies to and the rule clearly states that the notion of the word “solid” is applicable to a part of the keel fin, which is the basic construction of the keel fin. The way the measurers tried to apply the rule was to the whole keel fin and not as the rule says to its basic construction. Nobody disputed there was no problem at all with the definition of the word “solid” the jury decided to apply. It was WHAT they were applying it to! Read the entire jury decision and you’ll find it very interesting. It basically says that Ericsson did everything they could to amend the problem.

Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael at the start of leg 9 from Marstrand to Stockholm. Marstrand, 14 June 2009. Photo copyright Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race

Valencia Sailing: Yes, but it also states that the rest of teams didn’t think that.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: It’s not the jury’s job nor responsability to impose a penalty based on what the other teams think, besides the other teams were not aware that the document submitted by the Chief Measurer to the Jury was forged. The jury had the opinion Ericsson did everything they could in their best endeavor to fix and amend that problem. Regardless of whether we agreed or not with the demands of the measurers, we decided to comply with those demands and according to the jury that modification to the keel didn’t ascertain a performance advantage. As a result, I still try to understand why the jury decided to penalize Ericsson 3! If they did their best endeavor to satisfy the measurers’ demands and they didn’t get any performance advantage why were they penalized?

Valencia Sailing: Finally, after the modifications you still had a shortfall of 625 grams.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Yes, 625 grams on a total weight of 1,800 kg, which is well inside the measurement precision of the scale. To me this is insulting. I would like to furthermore declare that in this jury case there was no hearing. The jury chairman being Brian Willis I invite you to read his latest affidavit in favor of BMW Oracle in the NY Court where he basically says that it’s not correct to impose a penalty without a hearing. Still, that’s exactly what he did with Ericsson! The very essence of a hearing is for the Jury to be able understand who is right and who is wrong, who is lying and who is telling the truth. If we had had a hearing, the Jury wouldn’t have based its decision on a falsified document. What is even more surprising is that after the Jury learnt that such document was forged, Ericsson requested a re-opening of the case which was denied!

Valencia Sailing: I don’t understand what motives the race organization could have to act in that way.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: You know, 350 kg of bulb more than anyone else was perceived to be a very big performance advantage to start with and I think it wasn’t probably so clear back then but it’s clear by now, that it is in VOR’s interest to keep the performance as close as possible within the fleet.

Valencia Sailing: Let’s now go back to the big picture of the 2008-09 VOR. Can you single out your best and worst personal moments as designer of the Ericsson team?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: There were a lot of good moments and it’s difficult to put one ahead of the others but if I had to choose right now, probably the worst one was exactly the keel situation in Alicante. It felt and still feels utterly unfair to me. Second one was the obstinance and perseverance of the measurers to disqualify Ericsson 4 in Singapore for 1.2mm of extra length out of a total of 21,500mm which again turned out not to be true. When everybody was training for the in-shore race in Singapore, Ericsson 4 spent 4 days inside the shed with the measurers doing everything they could to demonstrate she was 1.2mm too long. That issue eventually went to the jury and the jury told the measurers to bugger off!

The nice moment came right after all that harangue, pressure and stubbornness by the VOR organization (given the fact measurers depend on the VOR organization) when Ericsson 4 won the in-shore race in Singapore. We were beaten down so badly, and to answer to all that persecution with a victory felt very nice.

ABN AMRO ONE at the start of leg 9 from Rotterdam to Goteborg, Sweden, the final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006. Rotterdam, 15 June 2006. Photo copyright Oskar Kihlborg / Volvo Ocean Race

Valencia Sailing: Were the Ericsson boats a direct development of the ABN AMRO designs?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Yes, they were a direct development. In fact, we started the construction of Ericsson 3 practically 3 months after design. She is a very quick evolution of ABN AMRO 1 and then we went on with a bigger R&D process that concluded with Ericsson 4. This is something we are also doing right now. Since June of this year we are continuing the R&D of what we call the “Generation 5″ and “Generation 6″ VOR designs, a continuation of the Ericsson 3 and 4 campaigns.

Valencia Sailing: Now that Ericsson have officially announced their withdrawal from the race what’s in store for your design office in the Volvo Ocean Race?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: As I told you, we are producing a very thorough and well-thought R&D program which we divide itself into 2 types of boats. The first one, called “Generation 5″ (G5), will go into production at the end of this year and focus into teams that want to start building boats from January onwards. Then there is another concept we call “Generation 6″ (G6). I think that each team should make its own strategy but I think that G5 is suited to teams that don’t have a boat right now or that need a boat to go sailing quickly while G6 would be more suited for teams that have a history and background of racing and can afford to wait longer for the build. Having said that, in our design office we only have room to work with just three G6 because we don’t have the resources to work with more. To work with more then 3 will finally defeat the purpose of G6 itself.

Valencia Sailing: You said that construction of G5 could begin at the start of next year. What is the time frame for G6?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: The basis of G6 is to work in a very personalized way with those 3 teams. Therefore, we will adapt and be a completely flexible part of the strategic decisions of each of these 3 teams. We will adapt to them. If one team wants to start building tomorrow then we’ll start building tomorrow. On the other hand, if one wants to build at the very latest, which will be approximately November of 2010, we’ll also adapt to that. That’s the basis and key of G6; we become part of their teams. This involvement demands such a level of investment and resources that we can only do it with 3 teams.

Valencia Sailing: Has the new VO70 rule been finalized?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: No it hasn’t and to be honest this is quite a bit of a struggle for us. We started all this process on the basis of what Volvo had told us, to have the rules clear already before the end of the previous race. For many reasons this hasn’t been the case and I hope that we are now getting into the final stages of both the Notice of Race as well as Version 3 of the VO70 rule. As of today, we have none of them.

Valencia Sailing: How will this affect your current R&D process?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: It will not be very different because from what we already now right now the design will become much more a case of refinement. There is no more room for big-picture changes, there is no more room to do what we did with ABN AMRO 1. So, who says refinement, says hours on the development tools and the different bits and pieces of the boat. From what we’ve seen so far from the various Version 3 drafts we have narrowed down the design game to a very refined area.

Ericsson 3 in the haul-out area. Cape Town, 11 November 2008. Photo copyright Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race

Valencia Sailing: Doesn’t this go against the organizers’ wish to reduces costs? Won’t again the bigger teams with more budget on development benefit?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: In one sense yes and in another sense no and it is important to understand. There is a lot of people that use the lack of budget to justify their lack of performance. Money and budget are obviously important but they don’t guarantee victory. For sure it helps winning but in all events there were several teams with big budgets that didn’t win or didn’t even come second. It’s also a good excuse to say, “You know, I didn’t perform as well as you did because I didn’t have the same amount of money you had”. Winning is winning and it’s difficult to win whether you have little or a lot of money.

That’s the global answer to your question. The most specific answer is yes. A design which is focused on refinement can be more expensive than a design which is focused on the big picture. It’s also easier for us because we start from a very strong point.

Valencia Sailing: Budget caps or limits are a buzz word in the Volvo Ocean Race, the Medcup, the America’s Cup and every major sailing circuit. In your personal opinion, are they first of all desirable and second are they policeable? How effective can they be?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: You just touched the key of the issue. In principle, we agree with any rule, of any kind, whether it’s budget, displacement, height of the mast or weight of the bulb. Still every rule that is not easily controllable or policeable, defeats the very purpose of the rule and shouldn’t be part of the game at this level. I don’t want to get involved into politics, there has been way too much politics in the last VOR, I’m sick of it and I don’t want to be part of it again. The only thing I’m asking for is clear rules. If somebody from Volvo comes to me and says “We will put a budget cap here and another one there” and they have the capacity to properly control it, we will adapt to that. There is no problem at all. Again, we will adapt to any rule, but our only wish is that they are clear, not subjective or cannot be manipulated.

Valencia Sailing: Did you like the route the 2008-09 VOR had? Do you agree with cutting 1 or 2 stopovers?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: I’m a simple serviceman in this race, I’m a simple yacht designer. If this race exists it is because it creates a business and marketing platform for all that invest in it. As a result, I think that these questions should be answered by those that have an interest and make a profit out of it. Having personally been involved with people like that I think they are very interested in the format we had last time because having this contact with their clients in different regions of the planet was the very reason they did it in the first place. Although I’m not a marketing specialist, I sensed they were very happy with it, so I will let them make the final decision.

On the other hand, what we sailors/designers like is a round-the-world race and it has to remain a round-the-world race. For example when I hear that there is the intention to have the final leg score double or triple points, something like a medal race, so that the race is not won before it’s finished, that to me is a nonsense. Imagine if that was the case in the last leg between Stockholm and Saint Petersburg. Well, winning that leg isn’t representative of winning a round-the-world race. There is something that marketing and business people have to understand. It is a marketing and business platform because, first of all, it is a great design and human adventure and only because of that. It’s not the other way round.

Valencia Sailing: Last but not least, in order to close our VOR discussion. There were 8 boats in the last race from 6 teams and in the previous 2 editions you worked for the strongest entries. The organizers want to lower costs in order to attract more entries. Would you rather have a few strong teams or a larger number with probably weaker entries?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Let me first point out that you are only perceiving ABN-AMRO and Ericsson as the strongest teams because they won. Let me remind you that at the start of the 1st race, ABN-AMRO 1 in particular, was not received as the strongest entry. The strongest team was clearly thought to be Movistar and in fact had the same budget. In the latest edition, due to the previous victory of ABN-AMRO, Ericsson was perceived to be a strong team but let me remind you that both Telefonica and Puma were perceived to be as strong in terms of budget.

To answer now your question specifically, it doesn’t seem natural to me to condition quality for quantity. Marketing people will argue that quantity is quality but this is true only in the marketing world. In the sports and design world it doesn’t work like that. For sure, I would love to have a Volvo Ocean Race with 15 or even 20 entries, who wouldn’t. But we have to be careful how low we are prepared to compromise quality in order to achieve those quantities. In this game, quantity is inversely proportional to quality. Just consider a simple fact. Is it feasible to have 15-20 properly built VO70 yachts? For that reason I’m astonished how long it’s taking Volvo Event Management to come out with these rules because even if we had 12-15 teams ready and able to get going on their process tomorrow morning how are we going to do to have all those boats built in time?

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Ericsson 3 on her way to Italy

Posted on 02 October 2009 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Ericsson Racing Team] Ericsson 3 left Lidingö as of yesterday, October 1, to sail down to Italy where she will continue to sail under the Italian flag. Giovanni Soldini (43) has been named as the skipper of the Italia 70 team that has bought Ericsson 3 to participate in the coming Volvo Ocean Race.

Ericsson Racing Team’s Magnus Olsson, who skippered Ericsson 3 to an honourable fourth place in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-2009, is on board for the delivery, together with Fletcher Kennedy, one of Ericsson Racing Team’s shore crew members, new skipper Giovanni Soldini and eight Italian crew members.

As of this morning Magnus Olsson and the crew on board reports that they are on the Swedish South Coast enjoying some nice sailing in the cold (below zero last night) and sunny Swedish Fall weather.

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Ericsson not to participate in 2011-12 VOR edition

Posted on 21 September 2009 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Ericsson Racing Team] Ericsson first entered the Volvo Ocean Race in April 2005, but now its journey has drawn to a close. The team’s victory in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-2009 is the perfect closing chapter to the company’s involvement in the globe-girdling race. After having attained overall victory and great business-to-business success, Ericsson has decided not to participate in the 2011-12 edition.

The decision was not easy for Ericsson, since the race has served us extremely well and the feedback from our customers is great. But we achieved everything we hoped for and thus it is now natural to pause and seek out new opportunities.

Ericsson has built its global reputation on the core values of respect, professionalism and perseverance. The results achieved by Ericsson Racing Team both off shore and on shore truly reflect these values. There are many people, partners and colleagues around the world that contributed to our success, too many to mention here. Ericsson Racing Team is champion of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 due to their professionalism and dedication.
To everyone involved we say thank you!

Keep you eyes open for the Nordic Edition of the official Volvo Ocean Race 2008-2009 book, High Seas, High Stakes, that will be available from November 2009.

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Telefonica Black win closing leg of 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race

Posted on 27 June 2009 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] It was an historic moment tonight in St Petersburg, Russia, when as the White Night turned to dawn the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, led by Telefónica Black in a thrilling climax, crossed the tenth and final finish line of this nine-month, 37,000 nm race around the world.

Spanish skipper, Fernando Echávarri said, “It’s a prize for all the crew and all the shore crew. We have been trying to do it in all the legs but couldn’t; this was our last chance. We had a nice battle with PUMA in the last 100 miles. We are really happy.

“It has been really difficult. We prepared the boat for light conditions and the first 150 miles we had more wind than expected so we suffered a lot. Then it got lighter and we got faster. We have been fighting with PUMA, Telefónica Blue and Ericsson 3 for the last 250 miles. It has been really close. It has been like a match race. I don’t know how many tacks we have done! It is a great way to finish the Volvo Ocean Race. I am really proud of everyone in the group. They have done an excellent job.”

Telefonica Black, skippered by Fernando Echavarri finish first on leg 10 in St Petersburg, crossing the line at 00:41:25 GMT, a mere 20 seconds ahead of PUMA. St Petersburg, 27 June 2009. Photo copyright Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race

Victory for Telefónica Black was hard-fought and a match race developed with PUMA, who had led the fleet for the majority of this 400-mile sprint from Stockholm. At just after midnight GMT and while on the additional triangle added to lengthen the course, Telefónica Black gained a small advantage, which translated into a two and a half boat length win, denying PUMA a second leg win in a row. However, with a total of 105.5 points, PUMA takes second place overall.

PUMA skipper Kenny Read said: “Congratulations to all those guys, they have worked very hard for their first leg win. We will take our second and our second overall. You know what? We just sailed around the world. I guess I said a thousand times that we know no other way but to make it hard for ourselves. It’s a shame, because we usually win these close battles and today we didn’t.

“The big picture is we finished this race, everyone is safe and the boat has been spectacular. We flew the flag well for Volvo and I think we flew the flag well for PUMA. We have everything to be proud of. Relief is the right word. Right now, it is relief and, as always, we are a pretty tired group onboard. Let the celebrations begin because all the group deserves it.”

Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED) filled the third spot both on leg 10 and overall, to close the team’s account on 98 points.

Bekking said on finishing: “We’re tired and hungry! It has been full on. Lots of tacking. It was a beautiful leg in that it was sunny. But we have been a bit unlucky. That’s how it goes. But well done to the Telefónica Black boys, they deserved to win. They had a superb leg. Good for them. We were all very close. It is a very nice feeling to have finished and got all the boys home safely. We had a podium finish which is nice as well.”

Fourth place finishers tonight and fourth overall with 78.5 points was Ericsson 3 and Swedish skipper, Magnus Olsson was exhausted. “I feel so tired I cannot say anything! Everybody is happy because they have sailed around the world, but they are also very tired. After a day or two we can say more intelligent things. You always want to do well in every leg, but this was special because it was the short one and the last one. We were up there so we are happy, but we couldn’t keep up until the finish. They beat us fair and square.”

Runaway overall leaders, with a final tally of 114.5 points and nine points clear of PUMA, Torben Grael and his 10 crew of Ericsson 4 finished this leg in fifth place. In an interview with Guy Swindells, skipper Torben Grael, who raced every offshore leg with the same crew, was reflective in his comments as overall victory in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 finally became a reality.

“I think it is a mixed feeling because we know this is the end of the story for the project. It’s a funny feeling because some of these guys you have never met before and you become like brothers. Now we go our own ways and it’s a strange feeling.

“On the other hand it has been a long race. It was a very long race around the world. We are completely drained and tired so I think everyone is looking forward to a nice rest. We have had a wonderful time. We enjoyed our training time in Lanzarote and the race as well. We have had our ups and downs, but it has been fun. After we won, it was a bit of a relaxing leg. It has been so intense and so consuming so I think it is normal that after you achieve your goals you relax. I am very glad for Telefónica Black and Fernando and his guys for winning this last leg.”

Green Dragon kept her slender lead over Delta Lloyd to finish the leg in sixth place, and fifth overall with 67 points.

To conclude the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09, Delta Lloyd, the only generation one Volvo Open 70 to compete in the race, finished shortly after Green Dragon to finish the race on a total of 41.5 points.

Skipper Roberto Bermúdez said: “We made a good job and everyone enjoyed their time. Everyone is happy and that is the most important thing. It started well but then there was some fighting with the Dragons. They did a fantastic job with the manoeuvres and I say congratulations to them for that. It has been fun.”

Ian Walker, skipper of Green Dragon, should have the last word:

“It is a privilege to sail in this fantastic race and I am very proud to have had the chance. I am proud of every member of our team, and I am proud of what we have achieved together. We promised to give it everything and to never, ever give up and that is exactly what we have done. We haven’t won this race, but we have won many battles and achieved more than many dreamed possible. It has been a very special year.”

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Just 400 miles left to the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race

Posted on 24 June 2009 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] It was like the end of a school term at the skippers’ press conference in Stockholm today as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet prepares to tackle Leg 10, a final, short, sprint to the overall finish line in St. Petersburg.

With just 400 miles remaining in a race around the world that measures over 37,000 nautical miles, and the leaderboard almost entirely decided, the finish line – the real one – is now in sight.

One leaderboard duel does remain. With a maximum of eight points available to the winner of the leg, PUMA leads Telefonica Blue by 6.5 points in the battle to finish second overall in the race.

The forecast is promising for the start on Thursday afternoon. A light Northeasterly breeze of 8-10 knots is expected. But as the leg progresses, the wind is forecast to ease. It could be a long 400 miles.

Team Russia will resume racing for this last leg. Stockholm, 23 June 2009. Photo copyright Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race

“This weather forecast is not perfect for us,” said PUMA skipper Ken Read. “We don’t want it to turn into a light air crap shoot because anything can happen that way. Telefonica can go and win the leg by 100 miles if they want; (but) we just have to beat one boat.”

“I think, realistically, they have sewn it up,” countered Telefonica Blue skipper Bouwe Bekking. “But it’s yacht racing and hopefully they sail the wrong way, come last and we come first. There would be a lot written if that happened. We’ll certainly be pushing hard for a win.”

Also making an appearance at the press conference today was Team Russia skipper Stig Westergaard, who brought the Russian boat, Kosatka, into Stockholm last night. They haven’t competed since Leg 3 and the team is now engaged in a race against time to get rule compliant ahead of the start.

With Ericsson 4 having mathematically won the Volvo Ocean Race on the leg into Stockholm, the rest of the teams are sailing for pride. And, according to Telefonica Black skipper Fernando Echavarri, that will be motivation enough.

“This is the last chance we have to win a leg and we’ll try to do that,” he said. “It’s more about personal pressure and trying to finish with a leg win, rather than pressure on the overall standing. It’s going to be good (weather) conditions for our boats so we’ll try to do our best to arrive in St Petersburg in the top position.”

Ericsson 4 skipper Torben Grael agreed it will be a competitive race: “We all owe it to our sponsors to get a good result and we are all very competitive people. A win is important to us.”

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Ericsson 4 wins the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09

Posted on 16 June 2009 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] A third place finish in leg nine has been enough for Ericsson 4 to provisionally win the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09. The team now has a 13-point lead over PUMA, with just 12 points available in the rest of the race.

“We made a few errors on the leg, but we got what we wanted so we’re pretty happy,” said Ericsson 4 skipper Torben Grael. “We were very close in Marstrand, but now it’s done. It’s finished. We can really enjoy it.”

It was a good night for PUMA as well. After a fearsome catfight with the crew of Stockholm-based Ericsson 3, whose crew wanted a win here in front of their home crowd more than anything, PUMA stole victory on the finish line tonight in Sandhamn (an island in the Stockholm archipelago just east of the capital city), and claimed full points for Volvo Ocean Race leg nine.

Ericsson 4 wins the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09. Marstrand, 16 June 2009. Video copyright Ericsson Racing Team

Today’s win was PUMA’s first leg victory in this 10-leg race, although they have had a good showing during the in-port racing. Their score of 95 points so far strengthens their second place overall at this stage of the event.

“It feels fantastic and it’s wonderful to be here in Stockholm. We feel a little sad to spoil Ericsson 3′s homecoming, but it’s a great win, and a hard-earned win,” said American skipper Kenny Read.

“Man do we know how to make it hard. I don’t think it has to be this hard, but somehow that’s the only way we seem to have success. We let them [Ericsson 3] go, on a little squall by lighthouse, and they went from half a mile behind, to overtake us. We had to battle back, but none of these guys quit. They sailed a great race and it was quite a drag race.

“When we let them get ahead of us at the lighthouse, I think most teams would have quit right there, but adversity seems to be our friend and we got a little break when they got their jib hung up on the radar dome. It’s a great relief to get our first leg win out of the way,” Read said.

Fighting PUMA for second place overall is Telefónica Blue/Bouwe Bekking, who had the terrible misfortune of being grounded on a rock outside Marstrand shortly after the start. The crew expects to complete this leg and be in Stockholm in time to contest the in-port race on Sunday and thereby pile the pressure back on PUMA.

The largely Nordic crew of Ericsson 3, skippered by the hugely popular, Magnus Olsson, and winners of leg five, the longest leg of the race, had to settle for second place tonight, bringing their overall score to 71.5 points.

“It was very close. That was enough tacks for a lifetime. We wanted so badly to win and now Ken Read has destroyed my party. How mad do you think I am? From now on, I’m really going to pick on him,” joked skipper Swedish Magnus Olsson, when he stepped ashore.

The final podium spot went to Ericsson 4, which ensures her overall victory in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09. Although there is still one leg left to complete before the team crosses the finish for the final time in St Petersburg on 27 June, it is now not possible for them to be beaten.

Skipper Torben Grael said, “We are finishing Ericsson 4′s circumnavigation. The boat was built here and left here nearly a year ago, so she’s back after sailing around the world and winning the race. It couldn’t be any better.

“We have a wonderful crew. A lot of experience. They have been fantastic on the whole leg, the whole race around the world. It’s a pleasure to sail with them and get back to Stockholm in this position,” he said.

Fourth, fifth and six spots were filled by Telefónica Black, Green Dragon and Delta Lloyd.

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