Team Alvimedica, led by American Charlie Enright, savored their hometown welcome in the small hours of the morning today as Newport, R.I., residents stayed out in bitterly cold conditions to cheer them in.
Enright grew up in nearby Bristol, R.I., but learned much of his craft in the sailing-crazy town’s Narrangansett Bay.
He had targeted the sixth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, won late Wednesday by the Dongfeng Race Team (led by France native Charles Caudrelier) after a thrilling tussle with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/Great Britain), as the perfect stage to grab Team Alvimedica’s first victory.
But it was not to be. The Turkish/American team was in contention in the 5,010-nautical mile leg until, realistically, the final 24 hours, but in the end had to settle for fifth place, also behind Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/Netherlands) and MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/Spain).
Their much-awaited arrival in their home port was agonizingly drawn out, as the wind faded completely and the temperature dropped to below the freezing point, according to show organizers.
Still, the boats and townspeople who had come to the race village near Fort Adams to see 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 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 in a statement. "Obviously, not the result we were looking for by any means, but it’s always good to be home.”
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 during a sailing career that was first publicly highlighted in the 2008 Disney film “Morning Light.”
“We’ve learned a ton,” the skipper conceded. “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 only Team SCA (Sam Davies/Great Britain) still to finish the leg.