Ericsson last night launched the first of their two challengers for the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race at the World Trade Centre Plaza in Barcelona.
The second generation Volvo Open 70, named Ericsson 3 and designed by Argentina's Juan KOUYOUMDJIAN
, was officially christened before an audience of 1,500 guests.
Crew members from both Ericsson boats - the international and Nordic entries - were in attendance. The official launch was performed by Gordana KOVA?EVI?, President of Ericsson Croatia, who cracked a bottle of champagne over the boat in the traditional way.
The centre piece of a dazzling audio visual show was a giant inflatable orb suspended high above the plaza which carried dramatic footage from the 2005-06 event and an illuminated route map for the next race.
The christening was timed to coincide with the Mobile World Congress, the world's largest telecommunications trade show, also taking place in Barcelona this week.
Ericsson Racing Team managing director, Richard BRISIUS
(SWE), said the christening marked yet another important milestone in the team's preparations for the 2008-09 race.
"The Barcelona event was a key moment in our campaign,"
he said. "It shows that we are very much on track even though we have set ourselves a tough challenge in pulling two teams together. A two-boat campaign is a complex operation. There are eight months to go to the race start but still a lot to do.
"The show here in Barcelona is the biggest mobile technology show in the world and Ericsson is the world leader in the telecom industry. Every year we hold a social event as part of the congress. This year we decided to marry business and sailing by bringing the boat to the people and showcase to our customers something other than our core business."
Skipper of the international crew Torben GRAEL
(BRA) said of Ericsson 3: "We have had great offshore tests and we feel very confident in this boat. Juan K did a great job on the design and we are very proud of the new boat. But with 235 days to go it is important to make every day count."
The second Ericsson boat is set to emerge from the Stockholm boatyard of Irish builder Killian Bushe in the summer. The team will now head back to its training base in Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands, and continue training until the race start in Alicante in October.
Volvo Ocean Race - www.volvoceanrace.org