Volvo Ocean Race: Getting to know Team Alvimedica

Published on February 2nd, 2014

The 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race will have a stopover in Newport, RI, and with the announcement of the race’s fifth entry, Team Alvimedica, the stopover just got a bit more intriguing. Leading the campaign is Rhode Island native Charlie Enright as skipper and Hawaiian Mark Towill as General Manager. Here’s an update…

Crew selection
Enright: “The sponsor is an international company, and our ambition is to be an international team. There may be more USA crew beyond Mark and myself, but our intention is to work in conjunction with the sponsor to make a young, competitive, courageous team. There is no obligation for the crew to be of any particular nationality, but it is an ambition of ours and Alvimedica, which has its headquarters in Turkey, for there to be a Turkish element to the crew. We’re not placing an age limit on the crew, but the goal is to be a young team, and definitely the youngest team in the race.”

Enright: “We anticipate the boat being in the water by March 24, and then having the sea trials in the UK. We will then host the first of multiple training sessions in April. In between now and then, we will be selecting a group of prospects for the first session, but the final team won’t be determined until later in the summer after a number of training sessions. Most of our crew training will be in Europe, but it is our ambition to include Newport in our schedule. We are in the midst of planning now, and will hopefully have a better idea in the next week or so. Our plan is to have our final crew ready by August, as the Volvo teams are permitted to compete in Cowes Week and Round Great Britain & Ireland Race.”

Galvanizing moment
Towill: “A big moment for us was attending the start of the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race in Alicante, Spain. At the invitation of Knut and his team, we were able to sit down with them and go through the whole process of what it would take. For us that was the beginning of our focus and commitment to find a sponsor. It is one thing to talk about and dream about doing the race, but it is another to meet with the organizers and to see the race, which then helped us to seriously think about what it would take to get to where we wanted to go.”

Enright: “Prior to that moment, we knew it was something we wanted to do. But when we were in Alicante, we saw that it was something that we could do.”

Confidence builder
Enright: “2011 was a big year for Mark and myself, as we launched the Oakliff All American Ocean Racing Team. We started with the Block Island Race, and then the Annapolis Newport Race, Transatlantic Race and the Fastnet. Not only did we benefit from the sailing, but also the campaign management. It was that campaign that got us the invitation to Alicante.”

Towill: “During that campaign, we brought with us an onboard reporter. While this was not a requirement of the races, we felt it was important to learn and demonstrate our ability to work with media. We both recognized in this game that the media aspect, which is key for a sponsor, is equally if not more important, than the results. I think our media content, which showcased how we interacted with each other, helped to convince the race organizers we were a serious team.”

About Alvimedica
Enright: “Alvimedica is using the race as a way to grow their global branding footprint. It is a young, medical device company which began in 2007 and based in Turkey. It is an ambitious company that is growing fairly quickly. They just purchased a larger Italian company with similar business activity, making it the largest medical device manufacturer in Europe, and they are looking to move into the United States market. Our team will be dual flagged – Turkey and USA.”

How they connected with Alvimedica
Enright: “Sailing is a platform they have already been committed to in Turkey, so this is a progression of their interests in the sport. They were keen to do the race, and we were a team keen to do the race. We share a lot of the same core values, and after discussions we both found it to be a good fit. That was in November, so there has been significant planning behind the scenes up until now.”

Newport stopover

Towill: “Having gone to Brown University in Providence (RI), I feel very connected to the area, and am excited at the prospect of sailing into Narragansett Bay.”

Enright: “I suspect the Newport stopover will be a surreal moment for a number of reasons. First of which, it will mean we got around Cape Horn. But seriously, it will be a homecoming that’s too good to be true. It’s a place where I have done so much sailing while growing up. There are a lot of races that leave from Newport, but not a lot of them finish there, so I am anticipating the finish to be an incredible experience.”

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