The Hague, Netherlands, June 19, 2015 – Team Alvimedica goes into halftime of Leg 9 leading the fleet with a convincing margin, finishing into The Hague one hour, 46 minutes and 26 nautical miles ahead of the next Volvo Ocean Race competitor, Dongfeng Race Team.
“It always feels good going into the locker room at halftime ahead,” skipper Charlie Enright said after the team crossed the finish line at The Hague. “Definitely a great first half by the guys – a real team effort, a lot of good decisions, a lot of good boat handling, and we were pretty quick at times.”
A huge crowd turned out at 2am local time to welcome Team Alvimedica first to the dock after the crew crossed the line with one of the most convincing leads yet on one of the shortest stages of the race. But the team won’t know until Gothenburg whether this first-half margin will be enough to earn the much sought after Leg 9 points overall. Leg 9 is split into two parts to Gothenburg with a brief 36-hour “pit stop” in The Hague.
The fleet will restart the second half of Leg 9 at Noon local time on Saturday June 20. As the first boat into The Hague, Team Alvimedica will start first with the same time margin as they finished ahead of the second place finisher, Dongfeng Race Team.
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,” Enright said.
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 grand finale of the nine-month, 38,739- nautical mile race around the world promises to provide a dramatic finish with a four-way battle for second and third place overall. With Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing essentially assured of the overall win, a heated battle continues for second and third. Team Brunel (27 pts), Dongfeng Race Team (29 pts) and Mapfre (31 pts) all remain in contention along with Team Alvimedica (33 pts). The young team remains determined to earn one of the remaining spots.
Team Alvimedica race crew for Leg 9: Alberto Bolzan, 33, (ITA); Nick Dana, 29, (Newport, RI, USA); Charlie Enright, 30, (Bristol, RI, USA); Ryan Houston, 32, (NZL); Sebastien Marsset, 30, (Lorient, FRA); Will Oxley, 50, (AUS); Dave Swete, 30, (NZL); Mark Towill, 26, (Kanehoe, HI, USA); and OnBoard Reporter Amory Ross, 30, (Newport, RI, USA).
Volvo Ocean Race Overall Standings (After 8 of 9 Legs):
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 19pts
2. Team Brunel –27pts
3. Dongfeng Race Team – 29pts
4. Mapfre – 31pts
5. Team Alvimedica – 33pts
6. Team SCA – 44pts
7. Team Vestas Wind – 54pts