As 11th Hour Racing Team gears up for race weekend here in Newport, Rhode Island, the crew reflects on the time spent in their home port, what it means to have leveled the playing field and finally, what’s at stake during Leg 5.
On *that* homecoming
“There might be five of us on the boat but it takes a village to win, and beyond our immediate team and wider 11th Hour Racing family, we felt the entire community here was behind us and that’s what made this win so special.
“Coming into Newport like that, under the bridge with hundreds of boats following us and finishing at 4pm on a sunny, breezy day… let me tell you – that’s the stuff of sailors’ fairytales.
“That welcome – and I’m sure the departure – shows just how ravenous and vibrant this community is when it comes to The Ocean Race and sailing and I feel proud to be a part of it.”
Charlie Enright (USA)
“The widespread positive sentiment around this race and our team is so obvious. It’s visible everywhere, from the school children calling our names on the dock, to people in the street stopping us to wish us luck or offer us a ride. Newport has really shown up.
“You can feel the passion and excitement, not just down here at Fort Adams but all over the city. I hope Newport stays an Ocean Race stopover for a long time to come.”
Amory Ross (USA)
On the competition
“It was nice but bizarre following the team from on shore and I am more than ready to get back onboard for this transatlantic leg. I am really pleased the team won this last leg, they did amazingly well but we need to push now, more and harder than ever before.
“We have some serious competition, but we also know ourselves and we know our boat. This leg is double points upon completion which means all the teams will be pushing hard. It’s just about pushing hard, without mistakes.”
Justine Mettraux (SUI)
“There’s an important balance in offshore racing around how much you sail your own race and how often you race the fleet.
“You race differently depending on the situation; it’s time for us to be a little bit more aggressive.
“We’re at a very interesting point in the race now, on equal points with Team Malizia, just one point behind leaders Team Holcim – PRB, and we’re about to go into a double points leg. A double points leg with no scoring gate… to the victor go the spoils!”
Simon Fisher (GBR)
“I often feel, through watching this race, that on race day, the short inshore course the teams do can often set them up for success or failure. You can rapidly get a feel for whether a team is in a good place psychologically. How are they walking down to the dock? Are they running a seamless operation during the inshore race straight away? That’s the sort of thing to observe, to gauge what kind of leg everyone is about to have.
“Who will be dangerous during this leg, will depend on the weather. The boats are not one-design, therefore the various different teams have strengths in different scenarios. The closer we get to the start, the easier it will be to pinpoint who is going to have an easier time. Between that and how they show up on the day – you have a good idea of what to expect.”
Charlie Dalin (FRA)
On the bigger picture
“This feels like a reset, like a brand new race. You race differently when the scores are different. Our win here was absolutely amazing but I don’t want our team thinking that’s the pinnacle of the race. It was a good feeling, but if we do what we are setting out to do, there’s a better feeling waiting for us [at the end of the Race] in July.
“The question is how much risk are we willing to take? You all know how many struggles we had in Leg 3, how many technical difficulties, and that meant we weren’t able to race in the way we wanted to. Leg 4 has shown that we can deliver and we’re in the right place in terms of reliability – now is the time to push, push, push.
“We always said we wanted to be the team that finished this race the strongest, we didn’t have the most impressive start but looking at where we are now, it feels good.”
Charlie Enright (USA)
“What is interesting coming into this race is observing teams’ reactions and how they cope with the longevity of this race. This is a story of endurance, not just for the sailors but for the whole team, the shore crew, the boat… It’s always easy to be good at the beginning but can you follow through until the end? The end is the most important.
“The last time I found myself up against some of the names in this race, it was in a French sailing race called the Route du Rhum back in November. I finished ahead of all of them but that was a solo race, this is fully crewed and a very different story.
“In my opinion everyone is dangerous but no one is unbeatable.”
Charlie Dalin (FRA)