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Ericsson Racing first monohull to finish Gotland

by Annabel Merrison on 5 Jul 2006
Ericsson racing in the Eurocard Gotland Runt Ericsson Racing Team ©
The Ericsson Racing Team was the first monohull to cross the finish line today in the Eurocard Round Gotland Race, Sweden, confirming her status as the fastest monohull entry.

Under the leadership of Neal McDonald (GBR), she competed with many of the race crew who sailed the Volvo Ocean Race on her, together with Technical Director Magnus Olsson (SWE) and corporate guests. Ericsson completed the race in 41 hours, 5 minutes and 40 seconds, taking line honours in her class.

The Eurocard Gotland Runt started at midday on 2 July and the Ericsson Volvo Open 70 was just one of 220 entries in the race, of which 214 were monohulls. There were nine sailboat divisions competing on four courses of varying distance. Ericsson was racing in the ORC Grand Open class; the largest sailboat division, whilst the classic yachts which finished first, raced a significantly shorter course to the top of Gotland and back.

Ericsson sailed a good race and led from the start off Sandhamn in very light air. After a slow upwind leg, down the east coast of Gotland, she was the first yacht to round Hoburgen. The second half of the race up the west coast of the island was competed in stonger breeze ranging from 10-16 knots. Ericsson was still in the lead at Visby, but it was soon after this that she was passed by the impressive 60 foot trimarans. The team crossed the finish line at 05.50 CET this morning, 4 July. The other boats in her class are yet to finish, but it will be tough to come first on handicap, as skipper Neal McDonald (GBR) explains:

'We sailed a great race, but because half the race was sailed with wind and half with very little wind, it will be difficult to do well on corrected time. That is handicap racing in a big fleet and you have to take the rough with the smooth. It was a fantastic way to round off the Volvo Ocean Race and great to incorporate some new faces onboard and allow other people to experience racing on these superb boats. You can't get a more beautiful landfall than coming into Sandhamn at 6 o'clock in the morning.'

For Magnus Olsson (SWE), Technical Director for the Ericsson Racing Team in the Volvo Ocean Race, it was his 25th Gotland Runt and his first time competing on the VO70. 'It was a very relaxed race with a good atmosphere,' says Olsson, 'but it will be depressing to hear how we did on handicap, because we sailed a good race and we couldn't have done much better. We saw some fantastic sunsets and sunrises and it was good to show our friends from other countries how beautiful the Baltic is.'

The Eurocard Gotland Runt is the first regatta Ericsson has taken part in since the conclusion of the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06 on 17 June. During the remainder of the summer she will be used for corporate sailing, before undergoing a thorough refit, with plans being made for additional regattas.

Quote: Magnus Woxén (SWE): 'It was a picture perfect Round Gotland Race, although certainly not the most demanding I have ever competed in. There were hardly any windshifts, sail changes or waves. It was beautiful weather and we really saw the Swedish Archipelago at its best. We sailed very well, trimming all the way to the finish to get the best performance out of the boat.'

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