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Volvo Ocean race - Ericsson 3 finishes Leg 4 and starts leg 5

by Event media on 15 Feb 2009
Ericsson 3 finishes Leg 4 in Qingdao Volvo Ocean Race

Magnus Olsson and his crew racing Ericsson 3 were simply not going to give away points. Retiring after their boat was seriously damaged in the crossing between Luzon Island in the Philippines and the northern tip of Taiwan, was not an option for this team, whose tenacity is beyond doubt. Four points for finishing in fifth place were on offer, and they belonged to Ericsson 3.

'I think I’ve done 40 legs in the Whitbread / Volvo and I have never abandoned a leg,' said skipper Magnus Olsson. 'I have always finished and this feels like the best finish I have ever made. And the reason is our fantastic boat builders and shore team. They never gave up even when it looked hopeless. They battled on and wanted us to finish in time for the next start and we almost made it.'

The original incident where the boat was damaged was a terrifying experience for the crew who, on day 10 of Volvo Ocean Race leg four from Singapore to Qingdao in China, discovered the bow compartment of their boat was full of water and found a four-metre crack and an open hole in the hull. As soon as the boat started leaking, Olsson turned the bow back towards Taiwan where he steered for shelter and the sanctity of a boat yard that could make assess the damage.

The damage was serious. A boat yard was found which could make the repairs but it required a painful 20-hour trip with a tugboat precariously towing a rusty barge loaded with Ericsson 3. Boat builders were flown in from all corners of the globe, a new piece of bow section was built in Italy and flown to the new yard and suddenly the impossible looked possible.

'We have really worked like maniacs,' said 59-year old skipper Magnus Olsson, the oldest skipper in the race. 'The boat builders and sailors have fought around the clock and now we’re back on track. I really want to give all the guys credit for a fantastic job.'

On 11 February, the team returned to the spot where they suspended racing and restarted leg four at 23:44 GMT. They arrived in Qingdao at 10:01 GMT or 18:01 local time.

But there was no time for big celebrations for this team. No rest or relaxation, no prize giving to attend and no in-port race to take part, when they arrived in China. Instead, the team was greeted by jubilant friends and family dockside and an eager shore crew ready to get started. There was a serious race against time to get the boat loaded with provisions, a new main sail and equipment for the longest leg of the race. It only took the well organised team just over an hour to get back off the dock again.

At 19:50 local time, (11:50 GMT) Ericsson 3 crossed the start line of leg five, nearly seven hours after PUMA, Ericsson 4, and Green Dragon. It will be another 12,300 nautical miles for this crew until they can relax.

Meanwhile, Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED), which suffered damage earlier today, just minutes before the start of leg five, has been hauled out of the water. A crack has appeared in the keel and the keel bulb has been damaged.

'That crack shouldn’t have been there, said Bouwe Bekking. 'We have to do it the proper way. We have to be 100 per cent sure. A structural problem would be a major and then it’s a drama. I don’t even want to think about that.'

Volvo Ocean Race - Leg Four Finishing Order Qingdao

1 Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) 8 points
2 PUMA (Ken Read/USA) 7 points
3 Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael) 6 points
4 Green Dragon (Ian Walker) 5 points
5 Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson) 4 points
6 Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) DNF: 2 points
7 Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bérmudez/ESP)DNF: 2 points
Team Russia (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS

Volvo Ocean Race - Overall Leaderboard at the end of Leg 4, including Qingdao in-port race

1 Ericsson 4: 49 points
2 Telefónica Blue: 42 points
3 PUMA: 41 points
4 Green Dragon: 30 points
5 Ericsson 3: 28 points
6 Telefónica Black 21 points
7 Delta Lloyd: 12 points
8 Team Russia:10.5 points
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