Volvo Ocean Race – Tired, a little disappointed, but still proud, Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) savoured their hometown welcome in the small hours of Thursday as Newport residents stayed out in bitterly cold conditions to cheer them in.
Skipper Enright grew up in nearby Bristol, but learned much of his craft in the sailing crazy town’s Narrangansett Bay.
He had targeted the sixth leg, won late on Wednesday by Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) after a thrilling tussle with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), as the perfect stage to grab Team Alvimedica’s first victory.
But it was not to be. The Turkish/American team were in contention in the 5,010-nautical mile (nm) leg until, realistically, the final 24 hours, but in the end had to settle for fifth place also behind Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) and MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP).
Their much-awaited arrival in their home port was agonisingly drawn out, as the wind faded completely and the temperature dropped to below freezing point.
Still, the boats and town’s people who had journeyed to the race village by Fort Adams to witness the leaders home in their droves, remained to witness the final rites of Team Alvimedica’s leg.
Enright, 30, was delighted and moved by the reception after finally completing the leg from Itajaí, Brazil, in 17 days 14 hours and 24 minutes.
“It’s pretty humbling to see all these guys out here at such an obscure hour in no wind for such a long period of time,’ he said.
‘Obviously, not the result we were looking for by any means, but it’s always good to be home,” he said.
The team, which boasts the youngest crew in the race ahead of Dongfeng Race Team, is on a steep learning curve.
Until this race, Enright had not crossed the Equator in a sailing career which was first publicly highlighted in the 2008 Disney film, Morning Light.
“We’ve learned a ton,” conceded the skipper. “We’ve been behind since day one with not having experience from previous races, but we’ve learned a lot about the boats, how to sail them, boat speed stuff, tactical stuff, comms stuff. Every day we are learning – as is everybody.
“I like to think we’ve learned at a little better clip because we had a little bit more to learn at the beginning. Although this result doesn’t reflect it, we’ve learned a lot from this leg too. One day one of these legs will be ours.”
Team Alvimedica’s arrival left just Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) still to finish the leg. They were forecasted to arrive in Newport around 1300 local time (1700 UTC) later on Thursday.