Volvo Ocean Race - Making up the experience gap

04 May 2014. Paul Cayard with Team Alvimedica in Lisbon - Volvo Ocean Race 2014
Team Alvimedica’s young guns challenging for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 are already making up the experience gap with innovative solutions to make them as competitive as possible before the starter’s gun sounds in October.

Skipper Charlie Enright and Mark Towill launched their rookie campaign for offshore racing’s most prestigious crown back in January this year and have made huge strides already training in their new one-design Volvo Ocean 65.

But the American sailors, both still in their 20s, know they need some proven Volvo Ocean Race know-how if they are to contest the title seriously against event veterans who have taken part up to seven times before.

As part of a pre-planned, collaborative mentoring scheme which is thought to be the first of its kind in the 41-year history of the classic event, the Alvimedica sailors will be tapping the experience of five leading Volvo Ocean Race heroes to improve their chances of success.

The team will be revealing the identities of four of these later but have certainly kicked off the scheme in style with one of the biggest names in the event’s history.

2015 Mini Transat îles de Guadeloupe

'We decided to take our courage in our hands and ask the best in the business – in our eyes – to help us out and give us the benefit of his huge knowledge,' said Enright.

'We approached the legendary Paul Cayard, who won the Race back in 1997-98, and is one of the biggest names ever to compete. What he doesn’t know about the Volvo Ocean Race and sailing – both offshore and in-port – isn’t worth knowing.'

With the full backing of their sponsors Alvimedica, the young Turkey-based medical devices company which is also moving into challenging new waters with a new global sales push, fellow American Cayard agreed to join them for a sailing master class.

Said Cayard, 54, who won the Race in his Volvo Ocean Race debut on board EF Language: 'These guys remind me of me in so many ways when I started out. Sure, they’re green at this level but my goodness, they’re open to learning everything they can and we had a blast in the five days we spent together in Cascais (near Lisbon, Portugal) earlier this month.'

The move to approach Cayard, also a legend in America’s Cup sailing and a former Olympian, surprised many of their seasoned Race rivals but he certainly admired the chutzpah of Enright and Towill.

'These boys have already shown guts galore in simply getting this campaign off the ground and they’ll need more sailing around the world. They need to think out of the box like this. We won on EF Language by being innovative and flexible in keeping changing tactics and Team Alvimedica are taking the same route.'

Amyr Klink - 2014 - 15 Volvo Ocean Race
© Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race

'We wanted to find a crew full of sailors who reflect what we stand for as a company – young, agile, courageous, innovative, – but at the same time collaborative and caring,' said Anna Malm Bernsten, the Campaign Director formTeam Alvimedica.

'This story encapsulates all those qualities. Cayard can be a frightening guy when he’s yelling instructions to our young lads but wow, his heart is made of gold. Not many people with his experience would be willing to drop everything for five days to help out our boys like this,' she continued.

The 38,739-nautical mile Volvo Ocean Race kicks off on October 4 with the first in-port race in Alicante, Spain – home of the race – before the first leg to Cape Town begins exactly a week later.

It concludes on June 27, 2015 with the in-port race of Gothenburg, Sweden having visited nine other ports around the world in between.

Event website