Team Alvimedica is sailing across the Atlantic at this very moment and should pull in to Newport sometime next week. This is a group the south coast can rally around.
True, the boat was built in England and it’s backed by a Turkish medical equipment firm. Beyond that though, this entry in the upcoming Volvo around-the-world Ocean Race is about as ‘home team’ as anything in big-time sailing gets these days.
Skipper Charlie Enright learned to sail here, lives in Bristol right around the corner from the Herreshoff Marine Museum, went to Brown and works at North Sails in Portsmouth.
At 29, he’s the youngest “by a bunch” among the Ocean Race skippers and he’s got a young crew — the goal was to keep ages on this boat under 30. It’s quite a change in a race long dominated by seasoned pros — most from New Zealand and Australia.
Experience wise, Enright may fall short of Ken Read, East Bay skipper of the last home town Ocean Race boats, the Team Puma entries built at Goetz in Bristol and New England Boatworks in Portsmouth. But those who’ve seen him at work say it would be a mistake to underestimate him or his crew — they are talented, enthusiastic and showing that they can make this boat sail fast.
Especially sweet is that the Ocean Race’s North American stop this time around will be in Newport — May of 2015 — so spectators will be able to watch as these amazing boats sail in from Brazil then head off to France.
First though, Enright and crew will arrive here next week after their first ocean crossing practice sprint. To arrange for an arrival time text alert, visit www.volvooceanracenewport.com. Then they’ll stay at Newport Shipyard for a few weeks where well-wishers are welcome (check website for details).
Don’t miss this one — it’s sure to be a wild ride.