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Home » Sailing » Volvo Ocean Race: intense in Alicante, even if it was just practice

Volvo Ocean Race: intense in Alicante, even if it was just practice


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/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/14_054617_VOR_TeamAlvimedica-800x533-642x427.jpg" alt="Practice Race one day before the start of the in-port race in Alicante, 3-10-1014, Alicante - Spain" />

Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15. Practice Race one day before the start of the in-port race in Alicante, 3-10-1014, Alicante - Spain. Credit: Sander van der Borch / Team Alvimedica.

It was intense on board Team Alvimedica today, even if it was just a practice race in Alicante.

Saturday brings the first In- Port Race of the Volvo Ocean Race, and today was a dry run for the seven international teams, as well as the race management.

With too much to do and never enough time, skipper Charlie Enright and his crew on Team Alvimedica have been focusing on other business in their build-up to the start of this 39,000-mile adventure around the planet. Compared with the last edition, the importance of the In-Port races has diminished, as Enright acknowledged at the skippers’ press conference earlier this morning. “It is its own separate category, we haven’t put a lot into it at this stage, although we’ve been training a lot of the In-Port stuff since being in Alicante. People say it doesn’t count, but everyone’s watching so it surely does. We’re still taking it very seriously. All the manoeuvres we practice for the In-Port races are still relevant for how we sail offshore.”

Later in the morning, Enright steered the Volvo Ocean 65 out for the start of the official practice session, with two dummy starts followed by the start of the two-lap practice race. At start time, with the breeze blowing at about 12 knots, Alvimedica had booked its spot at the starboard end of the line, right next to the committee boat. Trouble was, the Spanish boat Mapfre made a late charge for a gap that wasn’t there. Alvimedica had to take avoiding action and was slow at the start while the rest of the fleet launched off the line. However, there had been some over-eager starters who crossed slightly too early and three boats had to turn back to restart. And the on-the-water umpires made the Spaniards take a penalty turn for infringing Alvimedica at the start. So things were looking up for the team.

Dongfeng Race Team from China made a great start and sailed a near faultless race to lead from start to finish. For Alvimedica, the main battle came against Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. On the approach to the first turning mark, the two boats were side by side, absolutely matched for speed. Abu Dhabi went around marginally in front, with Alvimedica ahead of the chasing pack in 3rd. Things stayed this way for a while until the final run when Enright capitalized on a gust to get a lower line than Abu Dhabi and overtook them for second place across the finish line behind the Chinese.

Enright high-fived his tactician, Italian crewman Alberto Bolzan, for some great decisions around the race course. Navigator Will Oxley was pleased with how the team had managed the race, and with the level of intensity on board. “You can’t replicate that kind of pressure in training, so these practice starts and races are vital opportunities to gel the team together, to hone our manoeuvres and make sure the communication is flowing around the boat.”

Tomorrow the intensity ramps up another notch for the In-Port race proper. The start of this adventure is drawing ever nearer, and it’s not one that most sailors enter for the first time as skipper of their own entry in the Volvo Ocean Race. But that’s the gargantuan challenge facing Charlie Enright, who turned 30 less than a month ago, and who is grasping the challenge with both hands. It’s not a conventional way into the race, but as Enright pointed out this morning: “There’s no script for this, for getting to be a skipper. We jumped into this with two feet, but we surrounded ourselves with a lot of experienced crew members, and we take their advice to heart. It’s definitely part of our decision making process. We try to keep it all in perspective, it’s about gaining experience. We’re happy with where we are so far with our training, and hopefully we’ll have learned a lot more by the time we get to Cape Town.”

The In Port Race starts at 1400 hours local time in Alicante, Spain.

RESULTS FROM OFFICIAL PRACTICE RACE

1. Dongfeng 15:08:50
2. Alvimedica 15:09:42
3. ADOR 15:10:15
4. Team Vestas Wind 15:10:42
5. Team Brunel 15:12:26
SCA – OCS
MAPFRE – DNF

By Jane Eagleson, Team Alvimedica


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