Photo: Victor Fraile / Volvo Ocean Race

Team Alvimedica's five minutes of fame

Charlie Enright's team first into Volvo Ocean Race pitstop in Holland

Friday June 19th 2015, Author: James Boyd, Location: Netherlands

Skipper Charlie Enright and the crew of Team Alvimedica made a triumphant entry into The Hague at 0134 local time/2334 UTC this morning putting the US-Turkish team in pole position to win Leg 9 of the Volvo Ocean Race between Lorient and Gothenburg.

Enright said the team’s outstanding performance was a true team effort on a leg filled with tough navigational and weather challenges. “There were a lot of decisions to be made. The tidal gates make it really interesting. Just a couple of miles can turn into a pretty big margin if you get it wrong. It’s tough to see the fleet split, but we knew that was on the cards, and luckily our side came out. I think the timing of those tidal gates relative to which side you chose was pretty crucial."

The call to go south of the exclusion zone in the English Channel was the key moment of the first half of Leg 9, with Team Alvimedica taking the route along the French coast. “Going south was a game time decision based on the current information that we had,” Enright said. “A big shout out to our weather team – Anderson Reggio here on the dock, and the guys with Great Circle who’ve done a great job preparing us all week on what was a pretty short timeline.”

Watch Captain Mark Towill is pleased the team was first into The Hague but knows Leg 9 is far from over. “It was a tough leg – so far. It’s only halftime so while it feels great to be here in first, the job is certainly not done. We now have a little bit of a lead here so hopefully we can capitalize on it on the second half of this leg.”

After being over early at the start in Lorient, France just over two days ago, a first-place finish into The Hague seemed like a long shot for Team Alvimedica. But with a never-give-up attitude in a heated battle for the remaining two overall race podium places, the team stuck to their plan and made some smart decisions on a challenging course.

The Turkish/American team still has 480 miles of the final leg to negotiate to Gothenburg, Sweden, having sailed two days, eight hours and 34 minutes since leaving Lorient, France, on Tuesday. Second-placed Dongfeng Race Team finished in second, more than 1hr 45mins behind.

“It always feels good going into the locker room at halftime ahead, but that’s all it really is. It’s kind of like Cape Horn, no points but still a great accomplishment,” said Charlie Enright. “It sounds like there’s a fight (behind us). It’s nice to be watching it and over the line."

If Team Alvimedica completes the job and wins into Gothenburg, it would be the sixth of seven boats in the competition to have won a leg of this Volvo Ocean Race. They will head out of The Hague at 1200 local time (1000 UTC) on Saturday with their 1hr 46min 29sec advantage over Dongfeng Race Team and the rest of the fleet also taking their advantages and deficits over their rivals, in a staggered start. The seven boats are due to finish the leg in Gothenburg on Monday afternoon, according to the latest estimates.

Team Brunel was hoping to do better than fourth place sailing into its home port, but as skipper Bouwe Bekking said before the leg started, only the finishing positions in Gothenburg really matter.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing sailed serenely on to claim fifth place in The Hague, having avoided any major problems on the first half of Leg 9. They have an unassailable eight-point advantage over Team Brunel at the top of the overall standings and are already the outright winner of this Volvo Ocean Race.

If the current positions stay as they are, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing would have 24 points, Team Brunel and Dongfeng Race Team 31 apiece, MAPFRE and Team Alvimedica 34 each, Team SCA 51 and Team Vestas Wind 60. That would leave the Inmarsat In-Port Race Gothenburg on Saturday, June 27, to split the ties between second and third and fourth and fifth.

Leg 9 part 1 elapsed times

1. Team Alvimedica 2d 8h 34m 1s
2. Dongfeng Race Team 02d 10h 20m 30s
3. MAPFRE 02d 10h 54m 18s
4. Team Brunel 02d 11h 11m 47s
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 02d 12h 27m 44s
6. Team Vestas Wind 02d 12h 38m 18s
7. Team SCA 02d 13h 06m 37s

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