With 2019 coming to a close, we asked 11th Hour Racing Team CEO Mark Towill for some of his personal milestones for the team from this year:
Highlight of the Year
Mark Towill: I would definitely say Charlie and Pascal’s fourth-place in the Transat Jacques Vabre. This was a race in which we went in with no expectations but really proved to be among the best in the world finishing behind three new generation foiling IMOCA 60 boats. Charlie and Pascal sailed a great race and even with some setbacks like a time penalty and days with no weather data, they were pushing for a podium.
Biggest News of the Year
MT: For us, the formation of 11th Hour Racing Team and the announcement in September of our title sponsorship with 11th Hour Racing was the biggest news. To have their support and backing for this campaign towards The Ocean Race in 2021 is really where it all starts. We still have a lot to do to get to the start line and we’re not officially entered but we have the sponsorship support to get us there.
Toughest Challenge of the Year
MT: Charlie might say that it was his 24-hours of “excitement” during the TJV that was his toughest challenge. But in the larger sense of the campaign, our biggest challenge has been learning the ins and outs of the IMOCA class. That’s why we took the decision to train in France and to partner with MerConcept on our technical and performance programs. I think we had a steep learning curve this year and got as much as we could out of the past six months as we could have possibly hoped for. In that sense, we’ve met the challenge so far.
Surprise of the Year
MT: You know, in this sport you try to minimize surprises, but at the same time they end up coming at you all the time. You learn to be relentless. I think I was probably most surprised by how quickly we were able to bring our team together in such a short time to work together as a team on all sides from the shore crew and racing team to marketing and logistics, and beyond. From mid-summer until we all met in Le Havre for the Transat Jacques Vabre was only about 4-5 months and it was really impressive to see it all come together so quickly, including the release of our Sustainability Policy which will guide us over the coming months as we finalize our full Sustainability Plan in 2020.
Best #OceanHour Moment
MT: I’m proud that we’ve so quickly put together a three-person sustainability team to guide and lead us in our efforts as the team takes shape. We were able to get our Sustainability Policy signed and released and we will be tracking our footprint and holding ourselves accountable for our actions and impact. The Policy is the outline for our Sustainability Plan and we hope we can provide a framework or template for other teams to follow our lead within the sport of sailing and the maritime industry. Personally, I was also proud to see Hawaii pass Bill 40, one of the strictest disposable plastic bans in the country. It’s great to see my home state taking a leadership role and showing what local grassroots initiatives can do to effect positive change when it comes to protecting our ocean’s health.