Sailing: Ericsson hit by unrest as Volvo Race heads for Baltimore

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Confusion surrounded the status of the Swedish entry, Ericsson, in the Volvo Race as the six boats left Rio de Janeiro yesterday at the start of the fifth leg, to Baltimore.

The abrupt replacement of the British skipper, Neal McDonald, by the American John Kostecki after a poor leg from Wellington was followed by the announcement that Kostecki would be skipper for the fifth leg, and that McDonald would be co-skipper.

At the same time there was a denial that the British navigator, Steve Hayles, would leave the boat at the end of this leg because of physical clashes with the Spanish crew member Guillermo Altadill. Kostecki also denied that prior commitments would prevent him from continuing the job for the transatlantic run to Portsmouth.

"I'd love to stay," he said. "It's a management decision and we will know for sure when we get in and probably have more meetings to figure out what the best combination is for the next few legs. I've had no indication what they will decide."

The overall leader, Mike Sanderson, knows he needs only average results in ABN Amro 1 until the finish in Gothenberg on 17 June. There could be a scrap between Paul Cayard's Pirates of the Caribbean and Bouwe Bekking in movistar to move ahead of the current holder of second place, Sébastien Josse in ABN 2.