ALICANTE, Spain, Oct 4 – Charlie Enright’s smile said it all as he led his young Team Alvimedica crew to victory in the opening skirmish of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 on Saturday.
There’s a long, long way to go and the Alicante in-port race success does not even count towards the offshore overall trophy apart from as a tie-breaker in the case of teams finishing level on points. But as a confidence-builder for the Turkish/American team, you could hardly beat victory under bright blue skies and 14-knot winds in front of thousands of fans who thronged the Alicante harbour.
Enright was impressively poised afterwards. “Surprised that we're able to do well? Not that much. We've had some good practice, the guys have been working really hard on maneuvres and we're happy with the win,” he said. “We haven't done anything that counts for the overall trophy yet, but it's a confidence builder, it gives us the feeling that we can do well again.”
Enright (USA), 30, and his right-hand man Mark Towill (USA) know all about fairytale starts after hatching a dream to one day compete in offshore racing’s leading event on the film set of the Disney movie, Morning Light, some seven years ago. The realisation of that ambition took a lot of determination and the hammering on doors of countless sponsors before Turkish surgical instrument manufacturer Alvimedica CEO Cem Bozkurt finally saw potential in them and supported their campaign.
On the face of Saturday’s surprise result, that confidence could be richly repaid, although it’s obviously very early days.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, winners of the 2011 Alicante in-port race, were denied a repeat triumph by a mere five seconds in just over 14 knots of wind with Spanish entrants MAPFRE third a further 25 seconds adrift.
Generally, the racing could barely have been tighter in almost perfect conditions for sailing and the lead changed hands several times after a storming start with China’s Dongfeng Race Team grabbing the early initiative. Team Brunel (NED) eventually pipped them for fourth spot with Team SCA’s all-women crew (SWE) leaving Team Vestas Wind (DEN) comfortably behind to take sixth.
Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town begins next Saturday. In all, the boats will cover 38,739 nautical miles over nine months before the adventure finishes in Gothenburg, Sweden on June 27, 2015. They will visit 11 ports in all, including a pit-stop in The Hague.
Alicante in-port race results:
1. Team Alvimedica (Turkey/USA) 14:52:02 – 1pt
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 14:52:07 – 2pts
3. MAPFRE (Spain) 14:52:27 – 3pts
4. Team Brunel (The Netherlands) 14:52:48 – 4pts
5. Dongfeng Race Team (China) 14:53:14 – 5pts
6. Team SCA (Sweden) 14:53:51 – 6pts
7. Team Vestas Wind (Denmark) 14:55:24 – 7pts