Charlie Enright , Mark Towill, Will Oxley and the rest of the Alivmedica crew finally got the leg win that had eluded them for nine months, when Team Alvimedica crossed the line first at the end of Leg 9 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
They had a practice run on Stage 1 of the Leg from Lorient to the Stopover in The Hague – leading the fleet home by 26nm and were able to restart over 100 minutes ahead of the second finisher. They sailed a sensible second stanza and deserved their win.
Aside from Team Vestas Wind planting the Cargados Carajos Shoals 240 nm north east of Mauritius, on Leg 2, and Dongfeng losing their topmast near Cape Horn on Leg 5 through operator error, this edition of the Round the World race has been marked with close finishes, and usually the whole fleet finishing within the one live TV slot.
There is no doubt that the objectives of the race organisers have been more than achieved when they made many bold changes at the end of the last Race, and they now have a revamped event, which has a very bright future.
The test, of course, will be how many boats, crews and sponsors return for the 2017-18 edition. Technology is delivering better and better coverage, we invite you to watch the replay of the Gothenburg arriva and indications are that most if not all sponsors will be back and that there will be a fleet of nine entrants as a minimum.
The experiments with requiring mandatory youth crew have been very successful and look to be extended, with the age limit set to be dropped.
Despite being tail-end Charlies, or should it be Charlottes, for much of the race, the women’s crew aboard Team SCA have performed very well – underscored by their leg win in Leg 8 with some of the toughest sailing in the race. It was always going to be a big ask to close up a more than ten-year absence from the race, and limited opportunities for women in the domain of apparent wind sailing.
Sponsors willing the women’s crew will be back and will hopefully be joined by more talent that have come from the ranks of the Olympic class sailing particularly.
The advent of an Asian entry in the race has lifted the profile of China in World Sailing and indeed in World Sport.
They were only one of two entries to win two legs – and that has to be a significant achievement for China in what is very much a sport that is dominated by the West.
Like the Women’s and Youth aspects of the race, the efforts and achievements of Dongfeng will only encourage more Asian entries and participation in future races and expand the sport.
We’ll have more reflections on the Volvo Ocean Race in subsequent editions of Sail-World.com
We look forward to the final Inport race on Saturday