One of the greatest quotes about living one’s life to the fullest comes from legendary motorcycle racer Barry Sheene (1950 – 2003). After being diagnosed with the cancer that would claim his life, the two-time World Champion advised up-and-coming racers, “Don’t wait for your ship to come in. Swim out and meet the bloody thing!” In the world of offshore sailing, no one embodies that credo more than Charlie Enright and Mark Towill. Charlie and Mark have been creating their own opportunities since they met during the filming of Roy Disney’s documentary Morning Light and, as the co-founders of All-American Ocean Racing in Newport, Rhode Island, they recently announced their entry in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race.

We’re big fans of the VOR here at WindCheck, and it’s no secret that, in my opinion, this ‘round-the-world event is the pinnacle of sailboat racing. We covered the triumphs and trials of the PUMA Ocean Racing team during the last two go-rounds, and found each and every report from the decks of il mostro and mar mostro – many provided by skipper Kenny Read, father-and-son bowmen Jerry and Rome Kirby, and media crewmember Amory Ross – exciting and gripping. I am looking forward to more of the same from Charlie and Mark and the yet-to-be-announced crew of their Team Alvimedica. The team’s sponsor, Alvimedica, is a medical devices company headquartered in Turkey that specializes in interventional cardiology.

Charlie, who will be skipper, is a Bristol native and a One Design Expert at North Sails Rhode Island in Portsmouth. He and Mark, who hails from Kaneohe, HI and is the team manager, completed the Transatlantic Race 2011 and finished second in class in the Rolex Fastnet Race as members of the Oakcliff All-American Offshore Team, a youth squad supported by Oakcliff Sailing in Oyster Bay and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Sailing Foundation in Kings Point. Alvimedica is an international company, and Charlie and Mark have stated that their ambition is to have an international team. Nationalities of the final roster notwithstanding, these guys are absolutely the “local favorites,” with strong ties to both Rhode Island and New York.

Team Alvimedica aims to be the youngest team in the 2014-15 VOR, and they’ll undoubtedly be competing with the same exuberant “Go for it!” spirit that the crew of Morning Light showed us on the big screen. They’re going to be very strong contenders for overall honors, and I won’t be surprised to see a Morning Light alumni or Oakcliff Sapling graduate or two on the roster.

The Team Alvimedica selection process is currently underway. Most of the team’s training will be in Europe, although Charlie and Mark hope to include Newport in their pre-VOR schedule. And you can bet they’ll receive a warm welcome as they
complete the 5,010-nautical mile leg from Itajai, Brazil to Newport for a stopover in 2015. With boats making port in early May, Newport will again have the opportunity to show what a great international sailing venue it is.

Even though it’s a little more than a year off, I am eagerly anticipating the Newport stopover, and the In-Port Race on May 16 will, I suspect, be epic. As impressive as it was to see the Volvo 70s hurtling around Boston Harbor with the skyline as a backdrop in 2009, I think the shoreside crowds and throngs of spectator vessels cheering our ‘home team’ to victory on Narragansett Bay will be even more exhilarating. Charlie and Mark certainly have not waited for their ship to come in, and
Team Alvimedica’s goal is to be “the first all-under-30 team to compete in and win the Volvo Ocean Race.” With proven go-getters leading the charge, I think it’s an attainable goal and I’m keen to see it come to fruition.

See you on the water.

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