Chatting with Charlie Enright

Published on March 29th, 2020

Rhode Island native Charlie Enright, 35, has competed in not one but two Volvo Ocean Races (VOR), with Team Alvimedica in 2014-15 and Vestas 11th Hour Racing 2017-18. More recently, Enright and 11th Hour Racing have announced they plan to compete in The Ocean Race, the successor to the VOR, which will feature a fleet of full-foiling IMOCA 60s that promise greater speeds—and stresses on the crew—than ever.

Laurie Fullerton caught up with Enright shortly after he’d completed the Transat Jacques Vabre, a doublehanded race from France to Brazil. The race was the first in a series of training events Enright and his VOR partner Mark Towill have lined up as they prepare for The Ocean Race, which begins in Alicante, Spain, in October 2021.

How will the IMOCA 60, long used in the Vendée Globe round-the-world race, be a game-changer for this event?

We are entering a brave new world, as opposed to the uniform one-design Volvo Ocean 65 used during the more recent VOR races. There is no question this definitely will be new for us. Although in 2016, computer simulators convinced us that these boats could foil, humans just weren’t sure. Now, as it is the case with the upcoming Vendée Globe in 2020 and the Ocean Race in 2021, the grand [prix sailing community] is all in with the foiling technology.

We are going to be entering The Ocean Race with a customized boat and a customized campaign. Adding to that, we have the foiling aspect of the boat and that is both a really big step for us and in turn a big step for this race.

When it comes to the Volvo Ocean Race, in 2005-06, the one-design Volvo 70 was a new class, and at the time they were pretty revolutionary. But the evolution slowed down, and by 2012 these boats were far more standard. What we are going to do has never been done in past Volvo races. This boat will be specifically designed with cutting-edge foils to lift the boat out of the water at higher speeds. But we know it’s just the beginning of the process. Full report.

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