Overcoming adversity en route to Brazil

Published on April 17th, 2023

One day, when the scars have had time to heal, Charlie Enright might be able to look back on Leg 3 of The Ocean Race and allow himself more than a wry smile. He might be able to look back on Leg 3 with a sense of pride.

Those 38 days at sea were among the hardest that the skipper of 11th Hour Racing Team has experienced in his three editions of the race.

“Leg 3 was brutal right from the start. We had 40 knots in Table Bay and 40 knots shortly after leaving Table Bay. And we immediately had a breakdown and had to suspend racing. Then a couple other breakdowns along the way.”

Quite a bit more than a couple of other breakdowns, as it turned out. ‘Keeping the wheels on the wagon’. Enright had predicted that this would be the priority even before they left Cape Town, and so it proved. It was every bit the war of attrition that he had feared and expected.

There were a number of times when Enright thought Leg 3 was over for them. “When we delaminated our rudders, we had a serious conversation about stopping in New Zealand. Then when we broke the mainsail the first time we thought, hey, we’ll get to Brazil, but probably in an uncompetitive manner until we’re able to fix it and get the thing back to full hoist. And then certainly when the mainsail tore for the last time, I thought that was us done. For sure.”

Having just missed out to Malizia for second place at the scoring gate, the halfway point of the leg, was one of the hardest moments. “We had just torn the mainsail for the first time and we’d watched Malizia sail on by. We’d already gone through our rudder delamination and the boat was probably in its worst condition around that time.”

The usually very level-headed Enright doesn’t mind admitting that he lost his temper a few times during the leg.

“For me, every time we dealt with something in terms of breakage you have to take some time to vent. You know, that’s the time for anger. That’s the time for frustration. That’s the time for disbelief. But then very quickly, you need to kind of get all that out and move on.

“And once you do that, you’re confronted with two options. Give up or get on with it. And when you can boil it down to something that simple, it’s pretty easy to get everyone on board. They are a motivated group when you make it clear cut simple.”

When asked to look for a bright spot among all the low moments of Leg 3, Enright immediately goes to the unity of the crew.

“I think the highlight would be the way we came together as a team and dealt with all the adversity that was thrown our way. Particularly the mainsail, because it was such a big undertaking and it took everybody on the team to get it done in a timely manner. I mean, we’re under the clock so just seeing how the team rallied around it – the planning phase, the ingenuity, the execution, and watching it being successfully resolved, that was very rewarding to see.”

When 11th Hour Racing Team arrived in Itajaí, there was not much appetite for celebration. Just a sense of relief that the ordeal was over, even if the extensive work for the shore crew was only just beginning. “I think 38 days is a long time for five people to spend on a 60-foot boat in a competitive environment, in very trying conditions.

“This Southern Ocean leg is the longest I’ve been on a boat, full stop, period. By a good amount. March 2023 isn’t something that existed for me on land, you know, and I’ve got a family, a wife, two kids, and a mother. She still worries about me in her own way. Yeah, what I do certainly takes its toll on the people around me, so it’s a big sigh of relief to get back to shore safely.”

Now the race is on to have the IMOCA Mālama ready for the Leg 4 start on April 23, a particularly important one for the American team bearing in mind it finishes in their home town of Newport, Rhode Island.

“When it comes to the boat, I think we have to be smart about the jobs that we choose to take on. If we can’t get the whole job list done in time, we have to prioritize and make sure we’re efficient with where we place our efforts.”

The early returns are positive, as Mālama was the second boat to return to the water in Itajaí, joining Team Malizia and GUYOT environnement – Team Europe (who have stayed in the water after arrival) dockside at Ocean Live Park. While work continues at the dock, the team will be ready to race when the pro-am event starts on Wednesday (April 19) – a remarkable achievement for the full squad.

Overall Leaderboard (after 3 of 7 legs)
1. Team Holcim-PRB — 19 points
2. Team Malizia — 14 points
3. 11th Hour Racing Team — 13 points
4. Biotherm — 10 points
5. GUYOT environnement – Team Europe — 2 points

Race detailsRouteTrackerTeamsContent from the boatsYouTube

IMOCA: Boat, Design, Skipper, Launch date
• Guyot Environnement – Team Europe (VPLP Verdier); Benjamin Dutreux (FRA)/Robert Stanjek (GER); September 1, 2015
• 11th Hour Racing Team (Guillaume Verdier); Charlie Enright (USA); August 24, 2021
• Holcim-PRB (Guillaume Verdier); Kevin Escoffier (FRA); May 8, 2022
• Team Malizia (VPLP); Boris Herrmann (GER); July 19, 2022
• Biotherm (Guillaume Verdier); Paul Meilhat (FRA); August 31 2022

The Ocean Race 2022-23 Race Schedule:
Alicante, Spain – Leg 1 (1900 nm) start: January 15, 2023
Cabo Verde – ETA: January 22; Leg 2 (4600 nm) start: January 25
Cape Town, South Africa – ETA: February 9; Leg 3 (12750 nm) start: February 26
Itajaí, Brazil – ETA: April 1; Leg 4 (5500 nm) start: April 23
Newport, RI, USA – ETA: May 10; Leg 5 (3500 nm) start: May 21
Aarhus, Denmark – ETA: May 30; Leg 6 (800 nm) start: June 8
Kiel, Germany (Fly-By) – June 9
The Hague, The Netherlands – ETA: June 11; Leg 7 (2200 nm) start: June 15
Genova, Italy – The Grand Finale – ETA: June 25, 2023; Final In-Port Race: July 1, 2023

The Ocean Race (formerly Volvo Ocean Race and Whitbread Round the World Race) was initially to be raced in two classes of boats: the high-performance, foiling, IMOCA 60 class and the one-design VO65 class which has been used for the last two editions of the race.

However, only the IMOCAs will be racing round the world while the VO65s will race in The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint which competes in Legs 1, 6, and 7 of The Ocean Race course.

Additionally, The Ocean Race also features the In-Port Series with races at seven of the course’s stopover cities around the world which allow local fans to get up close and personal to the teams as they battle it out around a short inshore course.

Although in-port races do not count towards a team’s overall points score, they do play an important part in the overall rankings as the In-Port Race Series standings are used to break any points ties that occur during the race around the world.

The 14th edition of The Ocean Race was originally planned for 2021-22 but was postponed one year due to the pandemic, with the first leg starting on January 15, 2023.

Source: TOR

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