After a disappointing performance in the Volvo Ocean Race, skipper of seventh placed djuice, Knut Frostad, has decided to make radical changes on board in an effort to boost the team's performance for the remaining two legs.
French navigator, Jean-Yves Bernot, will step down and Erle Williams will return to the team.
"We needed a big change," says Frostad, "We really had no alternative. For me, any of these legs is a race. The important thing for us is to have some good results on these two last legs and finish this project on an upside and not on a downside, and that is worth anything. The only thing I want to do when I finish this project is to say that we tried everything, we did our best".
Replacing Jean-Yves will be Erle Williams, whose offshore and short-course tactical experience is highly suited to the tactical nature of the remaining two legs of the Volvo Ocean Race. "We need some fresh blood, we need a fresh mind and Erle brings some new spirit and some new energy into the team. He's a very forceful and fighting competitor. For the kind of sailing we have for the next two legs, he's a great guy to have onboard, definitely. He brings a lot of good tactical knowledge and his strength is definitely boat-to-boat racing. He has a clean and clear mind and he has confidence to make to make good decisions".
Bernot explains, "It's like in any sport. You have to adjust your crew to the opposition and the competition". Frostad insists that he has a very, very good relationship with Bernot and confirms that they are good friends.
Frostad says that it was always intended that Erle Williams would rejoin the team, and he will perform as one of the watch captains along with New Zealander, Jeff Scott. He will, however, also be the decision-maker strategically and tactically onboard. Frostad will do the basic navigation and Bernot, the 53-year-old French navigator for the first seven legs of the event, will continue to work with the team throughout the La Rochelle and Gothenburg stopovers as a shore-based weather expert.
"This was a mutual decision," says Frostad. "For some time now we have not been achieving results. I take full responsibility for our performance however it would not be prudent to continue with the current dynamic. I respect Jean-Yves a lot and there is no hard feeling at all. His work is highly valued which is why he will remain on shore and work with me for the rest of the race. He is still one of the most respected weather experts in the world."
Says Bernot, "I am happy to be standing down for the rest of the race. It has not been easy. Knut and I have been talking about this for quite a while but we haven't been able to find a solution. Change was overdue and although we tried to make adjustments, it was impossible until now. But that is the past and for now, we must do all we can for the team. If that requires me to stay on shore then I am pleased that the dragons, as a team, may benefit."
"This was not a difficult decision," says Frostad. "I have come to realise that if you want to improve, if you truly want to do all you can to make things better then sometimes that means asking for help. I have faced incredible disappointment and disillusionment over the past seven months but I have not given up - I still want to do all I can for the team, for our sponsors and for our supporters. I think the decisions we have made now will lift our performance. And if not, at least I can say I did all I possibly could."
Frostad concludes, "I feel cautious of raising expectations for the next leg. The changes we are making are not going to put us at the top of the leader board but they will make us more competitive and keep us in the game. That's sport."