Making the Band: Team Alvimedica

Published on July 8th, 2014

When Team Alvimedica starts the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race on October 4 in Spain, Americans Charlie Enright and Mark Towill will be leading the youngest entry in the field.

These 20-somethings announced their crew this week, and will set out from Newport on July 9 for a Transatlantic training run to the United Kingdom against Volvo Ocean Race opponent Abu Dhabi.

Scuttlebutt checked in with Charlie about the arduous task of crew selection…

What were the prominent skills that you were looking for?

We were looking for people that could sail fast and had experience. Having people that can drive fast is one of the few variables that will set the teams apart in this edition. While the crews are smaller with the new Volvo Ocean 65, the one design aspect of this race is going to put the focus on the people, and definitely the drivers.

How big was your applicant pool?

We had well over 500 people submit interest in being part of our crew. From that, we used resumes, references, and personal knowledge to reduce the field to about 15 people for the 8 crew positions and 1 onboard reporter. For sure, we had some difficult conversations with the people did not make the cut. But, after a couple thousand miles sailing together, we feel good about the group we’ve selected.

Why aren’t there more Americans on the crew?

I understand how people might expect for there to be a larger group onboard from the USA since it is where Mark and I are from. However, our sponsor Alvimedica is an international company, and we stated at the beginning that the goal for the crew would be to form an international team. And we did that as best we could.

I will say that of the 15 crew we trialed, 8 or 9 were from USA. Having to cut people in that group was an unbelievably hard task, but at the end it came down to the skills people brought forward. We are very happy with where we are now. We are right where we want to be.

How do you handle the shore team and reserve crew list?

The race organizers give each team 13 spots in the safety course, so 9 will be for the race crew (8 crew and 1 reporter) and the 4 extra slots will be alternate crew. The shore team will be 3-4 people, and at least one person will double as an alternate crew. Given a last minute need, having someone on the shore team able to fill a crew slot will give us some flexibility.

What advice would you offer someone who seeks to do the next race?

You have to be as well-rounded as possible. You have to sail smaller boats to master helming and performance, and you need to sail larger boats to become expert at operating within a team, and understanding the mechanics and safety of sailing big, powerful boats. It is important to also grow your human capital skills. You need to be more than just a sailor. You got to be a boat builder, a sailmaker, a systems tech, a medic. Every chance you have to put a badge on your sash, you got to do it.

Team Alvimedica: https://www.facebook.com/TeamAlvimedica

About the race:
The 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race starts October 4 and will take the fleet to 11 cities in 11 countries – Spain, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, China, New Zealand, Brazil, United States, Portugal, France, The Netherlands, and Sweden – and will require the teams to cover 38,739 nautical miles. It will be the first edition using the new one design Volvo Ocean 65 racing boats. Race website: http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/home.html

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