Ericsson Racing Team departs for race to Rotterdam
Ericsson Racing Team departs for round Britain and Ireland race to Rotterdam (NED)
2 June 2006 - Leg eight of the Volvo Ocean Race started from Portsmouth today, in light and shifty conditions. The Ericsson Racing Team started in the middle of the pack, and is currently second with 1,500 nautical miles until Rotterdam. The penultimate leg promises a very tactical and tricky race, with big potential gains and losses. The six-strong fleet will sail out through the western end of the Solent, past the Needles and into the English Channel, headed for Lands End, the Scilly Isles and the infamous Fastnet rock, south of Ireland.
Friday's race started at 17.30 local time just off Southsea Castle, where thousands of spectators lined the shore. Conditions were light and shifty, with 10 knots of south easterly breeze at the start, easing off to just 2-3 knots. After a close start, ABN Amro Two led the fleet off the line, followed by Brasil 1 and Pirates. Ericsson got out in fifth, but soon started climbing back through the fleet.
The course takes the boats upwind from Southsea towards Cowes and through a non-scoring gate just to the east. Later this evening they will leave the Needles to port, before heading out into the English Channel, headed for the next waypoint at Mizen head.
The first few days of the leg will be very light, in stark contrast to the transatlantic crossing. Sitting at the forefront of the navigators minds will be the high pressure system that is dominating the Irish Sea and showing very little signs of moving.
"I have done five Fastnets and this looks like it will be similar to a couple, where you have super light air and it is like breeze minefields everywhere," says Ken Read (USA), who will work closely with Ericsson navigator Andrew Cape (AUS) and skipper Neal McDonald (GBR) on tactics and strategy. "In these conditions you have to choose your route and hope for a combination of some good fortune and tactical skill to get you in the right spot."
According to Read, the best approach with any distance race like this is to split it up into multiple races with headlands. "The first race will be to Portland Bill, which is the first headland that we come to," says Read. "Then to Lands End, the Scilly Isles, Fastnet rock and so on."
"The next two days will be very important," says Irish bowman Damian Foxall (IRL), who believes it will be a leader's race once the boats head up the west coast of his homeland Ireland. "The wind is expected to fill in once we round the Fastnet and Mizen head. This is when it will be crucial to be in the front of the fleet. There is likely to be good pressure as we get up to Northern Ireland and Scotland and it will become a downwind race."
The sailors are expecting another case of the rich getting richer and passing opportunities could be limited during the second half of the race. Once the boats reach the North Sea, they will head straight down to an offshore mark near Ijmuiden to the north of Rotterdam, before sailing south down the coast to the finish north of the entrance to the Maas waterway. The Ericsson Racing Team predicts an ETA of 8 June in Rotterdam.
"When I got off the boat after the transatlantic, I remember thinking 'oh my god I have to get on that boat again in a week and a half'. But now the stopover has gone by, honestly I can't wait - I am really looking forward to it!" concludes Ken Read.
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Notes to Editors
Ericsson Racing Team, headed by Ericsson, the world's leading telecommunications supplier is supported by Sony, Sony Ericsson and by Semcon as design and development partner. For updates and pictures on the Ericsson Racing Team's participation in the Volvo Ocean Race, please visit www.ericssonracingteam.com. You can register as media to download high resolution images for editorial use. High resolution video footage is available on request.
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