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3 December 2005, 01:35 pm
Ericsson Checks In
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006
Cape Town, South Africa

After nearly 21 days at sea, Ericsson (Neal MCDONALD) finished the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race at 0547 GMT this morning, arriving in Cape Town to the welcome of their friends and family, happy to see them back on dry land.
Skipper Neal MCDONALD said, 'The leg did not go according to plan for us, we had a few problems and we are really quite relieved to be here. Of course we are disappointed, but it could have been worse, and we are just pleased to be here in one piece without too much damage to the boat.'

Navigator Steve HAYLES said, 'It is a fantastic welcome that everyone has put on for us here. People are aware that we have some damage. The boat went through a tough time on the first night, as did everyone else, but we really won't know the extent of the damage until we haul the boat out. But when we do pull the boat out, we won't be surprised if we see damage to the rudder as well. We are very comfortable with the boat and we are sure very quickly we will be back up to 100% racing trim and we are already looking forward to the next leg.'

By finishing fourth, Ericsson can add another four points to the scores they have already amassed by winning the in port race in Sanxenxo, giving them a total of ten and a half points and placing them joint second on the overall rankings.

After this win they started leg one with confidence but had to face the first night storm like the rest of the fleet. But unlike the rest of the fleet they came out relatively unscathed apart from a ripped spinnaker and a few sheets wrapped around their appendages. After some nifty work from Richard MASON they were freed and Ericsson was up to speed again.

In the race to the scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha, Ericsson fought Brasil 1 (Torben GRAEL), ABN AMRO ONE (Mike SANDERSON) and ABN AMRO TWO (Sebastien JOSSE) valiantly. With their navigator, Steve HAYLES showing off his vast Volvo Ocean Race experience and moving them into second at the gate behind ABN AMRO ONE, giving them another three points.

The drag race was then on to get below the St. Helena High, (which sits on the direct route to the finish) to find the strong breeze for a downwind run into Cape Town. The important decision was when to turn left under this high, as if the call is made too early it is easy to fall into lighter breeze and risk letting the opponents sail past further to the south.

Ericsson and ABN AMRO TWO stayed on a relatively similar course, heading directly south always within a few miles of each other. But as the breeze stiffened Ericsson gradually lost contact with the ABN AMRO TWO team, due to the loss of their heavy fractional reaching spinnaker over the first weekend of the race.

Unfortunately for the team the loss of this spinnaker almost catastrophic as it was this sail that they needed most in the last half of the leg as the breeze carried them across the South Atlantic east bound. Their biggest issue however, was sheer bad luck, when on day 18, 29th November they had a failure in the hydraulic keel movement system.

This led to the keel moving unchecked from side to side for a few minutes until Richard Mason managed to lock it off and allow them to carry on sailing albeit in a reduced capacity. Therefore Ericsson unfortunately could not perform to the level they would have liked, for the past few days running into Cape Town and to add insult to injury they hit a patch of light wind 200 nautical miles out slowing their entrance into Cape Town even further.

Ericsson Racing Team will have a lot of work to do now they have arrived in Cape Town. Every yacht in this race will undoubtedly face some bad luck at some point, it is part of living life at the extreme, but the real challenge is to rise up against it and carry on achieving. Neal McDonald and his team of highly professional and experienced crew have all learnt this lesson many times before and they will surely put this setback firmly behind them and focus on the next in port race and the Southern Ocean legs ahead.

Position Report At 0600 hours GMT, 3 December 2005

Team Nation Skipper Leg Status DTF DTL DTLC Leg Points Arrival Time / ETA Elapsed Time Race Points to Date Overall Position in Race
1 ABN AMRO ONE NED Mike SANDERSON (NZL) FIN 0 0 0 10.5 01/12/2005 13:24:02 019d 00h 24m 02s 11.5 1
2 ABN AMRO TWO NED Sebastian JOSSE (FRA) FIN 0 0 0 8 01/12/2005 19:56:34 019d 06h 56m 34s 9.5 4
3 Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) FIN 0 0 0 7.5 02/12/2005 04:58:48 019d 15h 58m 48s 10.5 2
4 Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) FIN 0 0 0 7 03/12/2005 05:47:38 020d 16h 47m 38s 10.5 2
5 Sunergy and Friends AUS Grant WHARINGTON (AUS) RAC 1323 0 1347 4.5 06/12/2005 07:09:00 4.5 5
movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) DNF - - - - - - - -
Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) DNF - - - - - - - -
Event Media. Image Ericsson arrives in Cape Town in 4th place, © Robin Britton
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