Read, Rudiger to Join Ericsson

Press release from Ericsson Racing Team

Ericsson Crew Changes
Courtesy Thierry Martinez/ericsson Racing Team

Neal McDonald (GBR) returns as Ericsson's skipper for the remainder of the Volvo Ocean Race, while American Whitbread veteran Mark Rudiger takes over from Steve Hayles (GBR) as navigator for legs six and seven. Ken Read (USA) also joins the team, together with Ian "Barney" Walker (AUS). John Kostecki (USA) remains in the team as tactician for the in-port races. The Ericsson Racing Team is determined to carry on improving its performance and results throughout the Volvo Ocean Race. Every imaginable area has been analyzed and many changes have already been made. Today, the team announces skipper and crew changes for the coming legs. "John came in as skipper in Rio and has had a careful look at all aspects of our campaign," explains McDonald. "The team has gained much from his input and will benefit from his continued involvement. I will be happy to take over as skipper again after the in-port race. We are very fortunate to attract such talented new sailors to the team and I very much look forward to working with them. We will work hard to keep on improving, and hope that our results will reflect the team's true potential. We will certainly keep on giving it all our energy." John Kostecki (USA) was announced skipper for leg five back in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. However, it was always known that he had other commitments after leg five. Ross Halcrow will not sail the coming legs for the same reason. "We have been working hard on improving every area, from sail design to crew organization," explains Ericsson Racing Team Project Director Richard Brisius. "The changes have proved valuable but there is still a need for progress. We are determined to have the best possible team for each of the remaining legs and will carry on fighting and improving all the way to Gothenburg." Further crew changes will take place onboard Ericsson. Navigator Steve Hayles has resigned due to personal reasons. He will hand over his responsibilities to Whitbread veteran Mark Rudiger after the Baltimore in-port race. America's Cup skipper Ken Read also joins the team, together with Ian "Barney" Walker. Multiple world champion and helmsman of Stars & Stripes during the past two America's Cups, Read will bring his local knowledge and sailing expertise to the team, whilst Walker adds Volvo/Whitbread experience, having sailed two previous campaigns. "I have sailed on a lot of high performance boats during the last few years, so I am familiar with them," says Read. "I have been following the race very closely and am excited to take on this new challenge. I will have to rely on the team to get my learning curve up as quickly as possible." Mark Rudiger also brings great offshore sailing and navigation experience to the team, having won the race in 1997-98 onboard EF Language and finished second on Assa Abloy four years later under Neal McDonald's leadership. "When I received a phone call asking me to step onboard Ericsson in Baltimore, I immediately said yes," said Rudiger. "I know most of the Ericsson crew. They are a great group of people, so I am very happy to join them." "It has been a hard race," explains Hayles. "I have given a huge amount of energy to get the boat going better, but at this stage the best thing for me is to make a change." Hayles continues: "I have huge respect for Mark. I look forward to working with him and helping him as much as I can. It is good to have someone fresh coming in. I hope that the team will carry on improving in the coming legs." Ericsson finished leg five in a disappointing fifth place. However, there are clear signs of improvement and after over 5,000 miles of racing the team finished only two hours away from third placed Pirates of the Caribbean. This improvement is due to a number of factors - such as better trimming, driving, crew work and sails. "My goal was to make everything a little bit better, and to get the team focused," comments John Kostecki about his involvement on leg five. "I will remain involved and I am available to sail all the in-port races as tactician." He concludes: "Neal is one of the world's best helmsmen, and having him up on deck is a real bonus to the team's performance. This is his campaign; it is his team and I believe that he is more determined than anyone to see it do well."