29 June 2006 – Just two weeks after crossing the finish line of the Volvo Ocean Race 2005/06 in Gothenburg (SWE), the Ericsson Racing Team will be back in action this Sunday 2 July, to compete in the Eurocard Round Gotland Race. Skipper Neal McDonald (GBR) will lead a team composed of Volvo Ocean Race sailors, together with shore crew, for 363 nautical miles of racing.
Boasting a 69 year history, many famous yachts and yachtsmen have competed in the Round Gotland Race, but this will be the first time a Volvo Open 70 has graced her presence on the start line. Neal McDonald has done the race twice before, crossing the finish line first on Assa Abloy in 2004, and sailing on the Ericsson Volvo Open 60 last year. He is looking forward to being reunited with his fellow team mates and believes that if conditions are good, then a monohull record for the race may be possible.
“It should be great fun,” says McDonald. “I am very much looking forward to doing the race again. We hope to be the fastest monohull there. It’s great to have so many of the race and shore crew taking part – a nice way to wrap up the Volvo Ocean Race.”
After some sponsor sailing and a quick refit, the Ericsson yacht will be fighting fit and ready to test her pace against the other yachts on the race course. For the sailors, it will be much like sailing a long in-port race. The crew which sailed the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) on Ericsson will include Andrew Cape (AUS) as navigator, Richard Mason (NZL), Jason Carrington (GBR), Damian Foxall (IRL) and Magnus Woxén (SWE). The team’s Technical Director and five times Whitbread/Volvo Ocean Race veteran, Magnus Olsson (SWE), will also compete on Ericsson, as will fellow VOR competitor Stuart Wilson (NZL), who sailed on Brasil 1.
For local sailor Woxén, who has grown up in Saltsjobaden and sailed over 15 Round Gotland races, the Baltic Sea should be a familiar training ground. Together with Foxall, he is competing in the Archipelago Raid this week; an extreme five day sail orienteering race around the Swedish and Finish Archipelagos. The pair (currently first in the race) will step straight off their Formula 18 catamaran onto the Ericsson VO 70 this weekend – a test of stamina, but nothing compared to what they have achieved in the past eight months.
Organised by the Royal Swedish Yacht Club (KSSS) in Sandhamn, the competitors at the Eurocard Round Gotland Race 2006 will be divided into four different classes, sailing four different courses. Ericsson will compete in the IMS and Grand Open class, commencing at 12.45 CET on 2 July, from a starting line close to Revengegrundet lighthouse. The record to beat is held by 60 foot catamaran Academy, skippered by Knut Frostad (NOR), which completed the 362 nm course in 1 day, 2 hours, 29 minutes and 50 seconds in 2004.
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