New Kids Draw First Blood

If there was ever any doubt Team Alvimedica and its young American leaders—skipper Charlie Enright and watch captain Mark Towill—were ready for the 2014-25 Volvo Ocean Race, those doubts were put to rest Saturday as the team won the opening in-port event in Alicante, Spain.
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
1st-Lead-pic-top

If there was ever any doubt Team Alvimedica and its young American leaders—skipper Charlie Enright and watch captain Mark Towill—were ready for the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race, those doubts were put to rest Saturday as the team won the opening in-port event in Alicante, Spain.

In many ways, the win reflected the way Enright, Towill and the rest of the crew have been approaching the race since the day the team was announced—work hard, sail well, stay cool and let the chips fall where they may. Despite the fact it was the team’s first real taste of Volvo Ocean Race competition, their performance couldn’t have been more professional.

The 7.8-mile inshore sprint in 14-knot winds began with a daring port-tack start by Dongfeng Race Team that shot the Chinese-flagged boat out to an early lead. At the same time, Alvimedica found itself in the middle of the seven-boat fleet following a conservative mid-line start, but that was fine with Enright.

“Try to stay out of trouble—that was the aim,” he said. “We didn't have the greatest start, but we wanted to give ourselves options. The pin end was really favored, and we just tried to avoid the clump and give ourselves a chance. We took our time on the maneuvers, tried to keep it simple and kept on chipping away."

 Alvimedica lines up for a conservative mid-line start, while China’s Dongfeng Race Team port tacks the fleet. Photo courtesy Volvo Ocean Race/David Ramos

Alvimedica lines up for a conservative mid-line start, while China’s Dongfeng Race Team port tacks the fleet. Photo courtesy Volvo Ocean Race/David Ramos

After that, at the first windward mark the Chinese still held the lead, with a marginal advantage over Team Vestas Wind. But on the subsequent downwind leg, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing split with the rest of the fleet by going right, a move that put skipper Ian Walker and company clearly in the lead when it came to round the leeward mark.

Unfortunately for Abu Dhabi, when it came time to choose sides again for the downwind leg the second time around, right didn’t pay anywhere near as well, and Abu Dhabi and Alvimedica were neck and neck as they rounded the leeward mark a second time. After that it was all Alvimedica as they made it first to the windward mark and led the rest of the way home. 

 Abu Dhabi leads Alvimedica toward the leeward mark on the second downwind leg. Photo courtesy Volvo Ocean Race/David Ramos

Abu Dhabi leads Alvimedica toward the leeward mark on the second downwind leg. Photo courtesy Volvo Ocean Race/David Ramos

At one point it looked like Abu Dhabi would successfully steal Enright’s wind, but the young Alvimedica crew did a great job working the handles to trim the gennaker coming out of a last-minute gybe and managed to stay in the lead.

“We were at risk of being rolled by Abu Dhabi, but we couldn't have played it much differently,” Enright said. “The boys ripped that sail around real fast, and luckily we got going again just in time.” In the end, it was Alvimedica over Abu Dhabi by a nail-biting six seconds, followed by Spain’s Mapfre team, with Volvo veteran Iker Martinez at the helm, 19 seconds after that. The all-women team aboard Swedish-flagged Team SCA finished a little over a minute later in sixth.

 Team Alvimedica and skipper Charlie Enright (holding the trophy) celebrate their victory. Photo courtesy Volvo Ocean Race/David Ramos

Team Alvimedica and skipper Charlie Enright (holding the trophy) celebrate their victory. Photo courtesy Volvo Ocean Race/David Ramos

Next up is the first offshore leg, a 6,487-mile marathon from Alicante down to Cape Down, South Africa, Saturday, October 7. For a preview of what the fleet will have to overcome on the first major trial of the 2014-15 VOR, click here. For video of the entire race, click here

Related

Pestilence

Sailor-Punk and the State of Cruising

Back when I was a young man, sailing back and forth across the North Atlantic in an old fiberglass sailboat, it seemed fairly obvious to me how all that was wrong in the world might be set right. Everyone should be issued a boat at birth! Or so I declared to any who would listen ...read more

promoOnTheHorizon600x

Cats On The Horizon

Dragonfly 32 Evolution Denmark’s Quorning Boats has been systematically upgrading its line of folding, performance-cruiser trimarans in recent years as part of a long-term effort to incorporate the latest developments in yacht design, with the latest to receive this treatment ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com The double range  Every skipper knows about ranging two objects in line to keep the boat on track in a cross-current. What’s less obvious is monitoring both sides of a gap such as a harbor entrance. ...read more

FamilyCruise

Bareboating on Puget Sound

Depending on where you are, Puget Sound can look no bigger than a mountainous version of the Intracoastal Waterway. That’s what I thought when I first laid eyes on it from the lighthouse at Mukilteo Park on a sunny day last July. Then I went to the top of the iconic Space Needle ...read more

Bali4point1

Boat Review: Bali 4.1

Coming fast on the heels of its predecessor, the Bali 4.0, the Bali 4.1 adds a number of improvements, many of them inspired by feedback from owners and charterers. She’s an evolution of a concept that has already proven popular and very many benefits from its builder’s ...read more

Headsail

Ask Sail: Silencing A Rattling Headsail

Q: Our Pearson 26 has a 110-percent jib that tends to rattle very noisily at the top hank. We only bought the old boat recently, but it must have been happening for a long time, since there’s a deep groove worn inside that bronze hank. The jib has an unusually large and wide ...read more

Alerion2048x

Alerion Yachts 33, the 90 Minute Get Away

Easy to sail, luxurious, and swift; the Alerion 33 is the solution to your busy life. The intuitive, simple rig design, easy set-up, and put-away mean there’s no need to wait for crew to enjoy a weekend, a day, or an hour out sailing. Her beauty and comfort are evident in the ...read more