Monday, January 05, 2009

Ericsson 3 skipper to miss next leg due to injury

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] Skipper of Ericsson's Nordic crew Anders Lewander will miss the fourth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race due to a serious knee injury that has required surgery during the Singapore stopover.

Lewander, 45, is expected to return for the fifth leg after he has fully recuperated and his place will be taken by watch leader Magnus Olsson, with Ericsson 3's other watch leader Richard Mason taking on additional responsibilities for the leg.

The Swedish skipper injured the knee during a sail change a few days out of India when he was on the bow helping to move a sail bag. It slammed into his left knee, pushing it sideways causing agonizing pain and a weakening of the joint.

"I'll be very disappointed to miss the leg," said Lewander, who has guided Ericsson 3 to fourth place in the standings after three legs with 23.5 points.

"It is a great crew with a great bunch of guys. It will be hard to stay on the dock when they leave but I know that they will continue to fight for the best results during Leg 4."

(l-r) Anders Lewander is consulted by Team Physician Dr Antonio Zoido. Singapore, 5 January 2009. Photo copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race

"Anders suffered a tear of his medial meniscus in his left knee, and after an MRI and consultation with an orthopedic surgeon we decided to perform an arthroscopy," said Dr. Antonio Zoido, Ericsson Racing Team physician. The operation was performed at Gleneagles Hospital, Singapore on Saturday, January 3.

Olsson and Mason between them have completed seven Volvo Ocean Races and have been with Ericsson 3 since training in the Canary Islands, together with fellow crew Thomas Johanson, Martin Krite, Martin Strömberg, Anders Dahlsjö, Axel Magdahl and Jens Dolmer.

"Ericsson 3 and the crew have performed beyond our expectations and it is a tough blow for Anders not to be on board the boat for Leg 4. We anticipate that he will make a full recovery and will be able to rejoin the team for Leg 5," said Richard Brisius, Ericsson Racing Team's Managing Director.

"The Volvo Ocean Race is physically tough, both on the boats and the crews. Anders' knee injury is a testament to how demanding it is out there, and we, like all teams, have contingency plans in case of injury. Magnus has an unmatched experience from the Whitbread and Volvo Ocean Race and has been an important part of the campaign since the start. We are fortunate to be able to draw on his support at this time," he concluded.

Ericsson 3 will also see one planned change to the crew lineup. Norwegian Eivind Melleby will miss the fourth leg due to personal commitments but is expected to rejoin for leg five and is planned to sail most, but not all, of the remaining legs and In-Port races.

Race veteran Klas "Klabbe" Nylöf (Stockholm, Sweden) will join the crew for Leg 4 to Qingdao, China. Nylöf, 41, competed in 1997-'98 onboard race winner EF Language and 2001-02 onboard second-placed Assa Abloy.

"I'm very excited to join the crew of Ericsson 3, and to rejoin the Volvo Ocean Race," said Nylöf, who will fill the role of helmsman. "With three third-place finishes, the Nordic crew has done a very commendable job. I'm also looking forward to sailing the Volvo Open 70. The boats weren't this fast or as physically demanding the last time I did the race."

Jann Neergaard (Copenhagen, Denmark) will also join the crew for Leg 4, completing the crew line-up. Neergaard is already a member of Ericsson Racing Team as a grinder for the In-Port races.

The Volvo Ocean Race resumes on January 10 with the Singapore In-Port Race. The race heads offshore on January 18 for Leg 4 to Qingdao, China, a total distance of 2,500 nautical miles.

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