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15 March 2006, 02:41 pm
KOSTECKI Takes Over As Ericsson Skipper
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Winning skipper of the 2001-2002 Volvo Ocean Race John KOSTECKI (USA) will replace Neal MCDONALD (GBR) as skipper of the Ericsson Racing Team for the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race leg five from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Baltimore, USA.
No ALT tag specifiedMCDONALD will continue to sail onboard as watch captain and co-skipper. Due to injuries amongst the crew, it is not yet decided who will step ashore.

In order to improve the team's performance in the Volvo Ocean Race, the Ericsson Racing Team has been analyzing every element of the campaign. Today, the team announced that American sailor KOSTECKI, who has sailed with the team as tactician during the In Port races, will sail as skipper for leg five from Rio de Janeiro to Baltimore. The team also continues to develop the sail programme for the next legs, and focuses on other improvements such as working methods and communication - two areas where KOSTECKI's experience will be invaluable.

'Need To Improve Team Dynamics'

'Neal has been Ericsson's skipper since the beginning of the campaign, but considering our current situation in the race, it has become clear that we need to improve team dynamics and performance. Following long discussions with Neal, John and other team members, we decided that a change of organization onboard is necessary for leg five,' comments Ericsson Racing Team Project Director Richard BRISIUS. 'We are in a unique position to have two world class skippers within the team and everyone has done their best to put their personal interests aside, for the benefit of the campaign, especially Neal and John.'

Winner of the 2001-2002 Volvo Ocean Race as skipper onboard illbruck, KOSTECKI is one of the world's top sailors. An Olympic silver medallist in 1988 and ten-time World Champion in a range of one design classes, he has also been involved in four America's Cup campaigns as tactician.

MCDONALD's Response

MCDONALD commented, 'It has been a tough race so far for the Ericsson Racing Team and we haven't had the results we expected. John KOSTECKI has a proven track record in both inshore and ocean racing and we all have a lot of respect for him, which is why he was associated with the team to begin with.'

KOSTECKI has joined the team in Rio de Janeiro, and he hopes to start sailing early next week in preparation for the next In Port race. 'I am very excited and proud to join the Ericsson Racing Team for leg five,' he said. 'These boats are extraordinary inshore, so I can't wait to experience an offshore leg. I have a lot of respect for Neal MCDONALD and I can see how the entire team looks up to him. Now we just need to concentrate hard on the next legs and to remain focused. There are still a lot of points up for grabs and there are good opportunities to climb up the leaderboard.'

Ericsson and other team partners have been informed about the planned changes since the team's arrival in Rio de Janeiro. 'The support they give us and the respect they have for our decisions are very much appreciated,' comments BRISIUS. 'We are fortunate to have partners who are focused on performance and result as we are, but who also understand the difficulties of an event such as the Volvo Ocean Race, with both human and technological challenges.'

Ericsson is currently in a disappointing sixth place on the leaderboard, having failed to show its full potential. There are still five legs, four In Port races and more than 10,000 miles to sail. For the Ericsson Racing Team, a new race is starting.

Overall Leaderboard
(Up to and including Leg Four - not yet ratified)
Pos Team Nation Skipper Pts
3 Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 30.5
4 movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 28
5 Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 26.5
6 Ericsson Racing Team SWE John KOSTECKI (USA) 21
7 ING Real Estate Brunel AUS Grant WHARINGTON (AUS) 11.5

For a complete list of all the news about the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006 CLICK HERE.

Annabel MERRISON (As Amended By ISAF). Image, John KOSTECKI will skipper Ericsson in leg five:© Rick TOMLINSON
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