Ericsson Racing Team yacht Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael of Brazil, has captured overall honors in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 on the penultimate leg.
Ericsson 4 placed third on the 525-nautical mile leg to here from Marstrand and increased its total to 108 points. That gives the International crew a 13-point advantage with 12 points remaining in the race.
Ericsson 4 completed the leg in 1 day, 9 hours and 58 minutes. It finished 15 minutes behind leg winner Puma and 14 minutes behind teammate Ericsson 3.
Ericsson 4 led the leg early yesterday morning as the fleet passed Oland island off the southeast coast, but wound up on the wrong side of a windshift later in the day that dropped it 6 miles off the lead. In the end, it didn’t matter.
“We made a few errors on this leg, but we got what we wanted. So we’re pretty happy,” said Grael, 48, who becomes the first skipper to win the Volvo Ocean Race and Olympic gold. “We were very close when we got to Marstrand, but now it’s done. It’s finished. It’s a fantastic feeling.”
The International crew has shown great consistency aboard the yacht that was christened less than one year ago, June 26, 2008. Ericsson 4, from designer Juan Kouyoumdjian, has racked up five leg wins, two in-port wins and three scoring gate wins for 60 of its 102 points.
The crew’s consistency is due in part to the fact that it hasn’t changed any members since the race began last October. Now it features four multiple winners of the circumnavigation race.
“It’s true we didn’t make any crew changes,” said watch captain Stu Bannatyne, 38. “We have a very professional bunch of people and experienced group of people. Our No. 1 goal was to win, and now we can relax.”
Watch captains Bannatyne and Brad Jackson (both from New Zealand) each won their third race. Another pair of New Zealanders, trimmer Tony Mutter and pitman David Endean, won their second race.
First-time winners in the crew are navigator Jules Salter (GBR), trimmers Horacio Carabelli and Joca Signorini (both BRA), bowmen Ryan Godfrey (AUS) and Phil Jameson (NZL), and media crewman Guy Salter (GBR).
“For me, personally, the best moment was finishing Leg 1,” said 28-year-old Godfrey. “We were behind after dropping Tony off, and then to win the leg and break the record . we realized the boat was quick. That was sort of the dawning moment.”
Leg 1 was one of the most eventful for the crew. Mutter had to be transferred off the yacht at the Cape Verde Islands due to an infected knee. That left the crew short one person, but the remaining 10 still set the 24-hour speed record for a monohull with a run of 596 nautical miles.
Veterans Bannatyne and Jackson, who both won their first Volvo Ocean Race together in 1993-94 aboard the maxi yacht New Zealand Endeavour, say that the key to the win was the complete package.
“I have to stress it’s a total team effort,” said Bannatyne. “The whole thing started with Ericsson committing very early to doing this. We had good resources, committed early, got the right people and from there on all the right decisions were made.”
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