The Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 won’t be visiting the sailing-crazy town of Newport, Rhode Island for nearly a year but anticipation is already sky-high after Team Alvimedica sailed in this week.
Despite the miserable weather, the town came out in force with a flotilla of vessels on Monday to welcome their 'home boys' led by resident Charlie Enright, who is skipper, and fellow American Mark Towill.
Team Alvimedica’s young crew of trialists had just crossed the Atlantic from Portugal in a 10-day trip with a bunch of experienced Volvo Ocean Race old hands on board including Stu Bannatyne who has competed on no less than six occasions.
'It’s everything I could have hoped it to be on a rainy night, it was really nice for ever one to come out,' Enright said of the welcome. 'After 10 days on the open ocean coming into Newport is an amazing thing.'
Newport will be hosting the race in May next year. The 12th edition starts with the Alicante In-Port Race on October 4 before setting sail the following week for the first leg from southern Spain to Cape Town.
The ocean crossing was an important milestone for the crew. 'It was a big step for Team Alvimedica,' Enright said. 'We had good weather all the way across. We’re excited about what we achieved and what’s to come. We’re here doing some more training before we head back across the Atlantic in July.'
Enright, 29, and Mark Towill, 25, and the rest of the crew, replicated 'race mode' on board throughout the transatlantic as they tested the rookie sailors and immersed themselves in ocean racing technique.
Another team with an experience gap to bridge are Dongfeng Race Team who are planning to blood three new Chinese rookies – if they shape up – in their crew which is due to be announced in Lorient, France on June 26.
They certainly don’t lack race know-how from their French skipper Charles Caudrelier who helped French compatriot Franck Cammas win the last edition on board Groupama.
After sailing 10,000 nautical miles so far including a transatlantic crossing, Caudrelier believes his crew is shaping up nicely including the Chinese wannabes.
Caudrelier reported this week that the crew had passed 'a key stage' with flying colours and found 'real talent in both the western and Chinese crew'.
Meanwhile, Team SCA are enjoying a breather from on-board training after ticking off two transats.
The 12 women left Lanzarote for a break with a fitness plan in their bags to 'to get them moving, loosen them up, get them back into a normal routine and functioning on a normal body clock', according to the team's fitness coach and physio Santi Casanova.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are also taking a mid-summer breather from their training base in Cascais near Lisbon. Next on their schedule is a transatlantic from Portugal to Newport at the end of June.
They will be back in Europe for Cowes Week where their boat Azzam will be officially launched on August 6 and race during the regatta.
The buzz for the Volvo Ocean Race continues to grow in the Netherlands, meanwhile, with Dutch boat Team Brunel continuing to do their bit to build the future of sailing in a country where the sport ranks high as a national pastimes.
With skipper Bouwe Bekking’s men back home for a couple of weeks, 4,000 Dutch kids received a miniature version of their Volvo Ocean 65 as part of a school project to get children involved in sailing. They will have to do their homework though.
A magazine will be distributed to every kid for every leg of the race. They´ll be finding out about biology, geography, life onboard and technology.
For more Dock Talk, see the Volvo Ocean Race website