U.S. sailors Charlie Enright and Mark Towill, co-leaders of Team Alvimedica in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race, have announced they are in for the 2017-18 event, in which they will be partnering with the environmental group 11th Hour Racing and past VOR sponsor Vestas.
Vestas, a global energy company devoted exclusively to wind energy, also sponsored a team in the last race, which had Australian sailor Chris Nicholson in charge. However, through a combination of bad luck and sloppy navigating, the team’s boat famously ended up on a reef in the Indian Ocean midway through the second leg and only barely made it back for the race’s final stages.
The 2017-18 VOR begins in Alicante, Spain, October 22. After rounding the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn it will be making a stopover in Newport, Rhode Island, in May 2018, before heading across the Atlantic to Europe, where it will eventually finish in the Netherlands.
Vestas 11th Hour Racing, as the team is being called, represents the four campaign to officially throw its hat into the ring, though more are expected. As in the last running of the event, the 2017-18 race will feature Volvo Ocean 65 one-designs, which make it cheaper and easier to establish campaigns in the last few months before the race begins.
“It’s an exciting time,” Enright says. “We’ve achieved a strong collective of sponsors, and the boat has now been refitted and branded in Lisbon, waiting for us to get over there and get it out on the water. We’re working hard on building a competitive team ahead of the race, and have a couple of transatlantic sailings lined up for April and May.”
“Mark and Charlie have been serving as ambassadors for 11th Hour Racing for the past two years, having witnessed first-hand during the last Volvo Ocean Race the many ways pollution and plastic debris are destroying ocean life and threatening all of us,” says 11th Hour Racing Co-Founder Wendy Schmidt. “Our partnership with Vestas is about inspiring positive change in the way we think about energy and the natural resources of the planet.”
As a sign of the race’s strength and financial stability, the upcoming race represents the second time three major team sponsors have returned for a second consecutive try, with China’s Dongfeng and Spain’s MAPFRE also planning to be at the start come October. Dutch-flagged AkzoNobel is the fourth team currently in the mix. Vestas 11th Hour Racing will sail under both the Danish and American flags.
In all, this year’s race will cover 45,000 miles, with stops at Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Cardiff and Gothenburg in addition to Newport and the finish in The Hague.