At 18:141 UTC [14:41 local time], 11th Hour Racing Team sailed into its hometown of Newport, Rhode Island, winning Leg 4 of The Ocean Race 2022-23. The five-person crew had raced for 17 days, 2 hours, 26 minutes, and 41 seconds from Itajaí, Brazil: 5,882 nautical miles up through the Atlantic Ocean. The team beat second-placed Malizia home to the Ocean State by just 31 minutes and 41 seconds.
The Leg win puts the only US entry into the race second overall on the Race Leaderboard, just one point behind overall leaders Holcim-PRB representing Switzerland, and on equal points over the German entry, Team Malizia, but leading as 11th Hour Racing Team will win the tie break with a better position on the In-Port Race leaderboard.
The crew onboard the 60-foot race boat, Mālama, for this leg comprised Skipper Charlie Enright (RI, USA), Navigator Simon Fisher (GBR), Trimmers Francesca Clapcich (ITA) and Damian Foxall (IRL), and Media Crew Member, Amory Ross (RI, USA).
Over the 17 days of racing the crew faced multiple weather system transitions as they sailed through the southern hemisphere tradewinds, through the notoriously fickle doldrums, and onwards into the north Atlantic tradewinds.
Thanks to a brutal final 600 miles to the leg with the team facing the strongest winds so far in the entire race, and with 12 hours of 40 knots plus, gusting over 50 knots, the team was exhausted, yet exhilarated, as they stepped onto the dock in Fort Adams.
A clearly overwhelmed Enright was surrounded by fans and camera crews. “That was absolutely wild! It was like it was scripted,” he commented with a beaming smile. “What a beautiful day to arrive home to Rhode Island, with a smokin’ southwesterly seabreeze, and having so many people out on the water to welcome us home and here on the dock at Fort Adams, it’s very humbling. People from all over the world have come here to Rhode Island, and this race allows us to show off this beautiful, aquatic, natural amphitheater that is Narragansett Bay.
“The last 24 hours have been the longest of my life, and we have been negotiating really challenging conditions, but for the past 17 days, we have been pushing it 100% each and every day and night. It’s been incredibly hard, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he smiled.
Italian Olympic sailor and World Champion, Francesca Clapcich was greeted on the dock by her wife and baby daughter, “This finish is just awesome! This is our home port, so it is an incredibly special win for 11th Hour Racing Team. And winning gives us a good opportunity to have a strong message about ocean health and to be here to carry the message to support all the amazing things that 11th Hour Racing is doing not only here in the US, but also around the world.
“It was our time,” she smiled through red-raw eyes. “It was our time to win. We had worked too hard not to make it happen; we had to execute. The shore team prepared the boat perfectly before we left, and it was our job to get it done out there. It was our time to win and we did it.”
After an incredibly difficult Southern Ocean leg, where the team finished third out of the four remaining teams [Guyot Environnement – team Europe retired four days out from the Cape Town start], the team was feeling the pressure to deliver a good performance. Navigator Simon Fisher said, “I wish it had come a little sooner, but a win here into our home town of Newport, couldn’t be a better result. I’m ecstatic right now. We had a difficult leg into Brazil, and the Southern Ocean was really tough, but the way the whole team rallied around in Itajaí, everyone worked so hard, were super positive and optimistic, and everyone had the belief we could do it. It was just nice that we could follow through on the water.”
Speaking about the dismastings of two teams in this Leg, Fisher commented, “It was devastating to hear the news of both Guyot and Holcim’s dismastings as we have huge respect for the talent onboard both boats. We are stoked to win, but you always want to win against the other guys on the water. I wish them all the best, and I know they’ll be back on the water in as short a time as possible.”
Veteran offshore sailor with over 450,000 nautical miles under his belt, Damian Foxall, received the call-up to step onboard Mālama in this leg, taking a short sabbatical from his day job as the team’s Sustainability Program Manager. “It was a great opportunity for me to join such a great team on the water, and our boat was really designed with this type of leg in mind,” he commented. “That said, it was rough for the last few days and hard work keeping it all together, but we made it!”
When asked whether he would swap a shore-time sustainability role for full-time sailing, he laughed, “Do I have to choose? Winning on the water showcases that we can create change through every aspect of what we do in the marine industry, whether it is in the boat building or with the materials we use – and that it isn’t a compromise. Clearly there are challenges, and that is what we are here to face. In the same way, when we have challenges on the water, we always go about exploring solutions and finding better ways of doing things – it’s the same for us shoreside from a sustainability perspective,” he concluded.
The Media Crew Member, Amory Ross, tells the team’s story through words, pictures, and images. “As a team, this is a moment we have long been waiting for. We have talked about winning legs and winning this race from the very start. So in a lot of ways, it feels like we are exactly where we should be. That being said, there is an extra element of pride, joy, and exhilaration to being the first boat home to Newport, home for Charlie and I, and home of our sponsors, 11th Hour Racing.”
Looking around the dock, with throngs of people who had come down to see the boats in, he commented, “How do you describe that sort of welcome? I’ve never seen that many boats on the water, certainly not in recent years – the enthusiasm and excitement that this town has for this race is a big part of that. And we can use our victory in this Leg as a way to spread the great message of ocean health and sustainability.”
Reflecting on the race between second-placed Malizia, Ross commented, “You could see that both of us had our strengths and weaknesses, and that kind of constant tug of war was really interesting and really exciting. We had good days, and we had bad days, and it was terrifying coming down to the wire here because as we went into last night, with 27 or 28 knots downwind – that’s a strength of theirs and a bit of an Achilles heel for us. We were up against the clock, hoping that we had got far enough west and north and into the lighter upwind conditions, which is our strength. It was a fight to the end.”
Jeremy Pochman, Co-Founder and CEO of team sponsor 11th Hour Racing, commented, “What a sight. This is just incredible. It’s so wonderful to have 11th Hour Racing Team come home safe, in first place. I can’t even imagine how excited the team must be feeling now. If it’s anything like what the crowds and all of us here today are feeling, it’s simply wonderful. Congratulations 11th Hour Racing Team. Welcome back home; here’s to a fantastic day.
“This is such an important moment for the Newport community, our long-standing grantee Sail Newport and everyone involved in this race. We are looking forward to a fantastic stopover.”
Looking forward to the rest of the race, Skipper Enright said, “We are now one point off the lead, and there is everything to play for with lots of points still available. We are going well, and we’ve now shown that we can win. It’s just about taking it one leg at a time and getting the job done,” he concluded.
Leg 4 current positions as of Wednesday, May 10, 2023 2045 UTC
DTL=distance to leader
1. 11th Hour Racing Team 17 days 02 hours 26 minutes 41 seconds
2. Team Malizia 17d 02h 58m 22s
3. Biotherm – DTF 161.5nm
4. Guyot environnement – Team Europe – suspended racing
5. Holcim-PRB – suspended racing
11th Hour Racing Team Crew for Leg 4 of The Ocean Race 2022-23
Charlie Enright (USA) – Skipper
Simon Fisher (GBR) – Navigator
Francesca Clapcich (ITA) – Trimmer
Damian Foxall (ITA) – Trimmer
Amory Ross (USA) – Media Crew Member
Overall Leaderboard as of Wednesday, May 10, 2023 2045 UTC
5 points = first; 4 points = second etc.
Note: Leg 3 was a double pointer
1. Team Holcim – PRB – 19 points (5+5+5+4+0)
2. 11th Hour Racing Team – 18 points (4+3+3+3+5)
3. Team Malizia – 18 points (3+2+4+5+4)
4. Biotherm Racing – 10 points (2+4+2+2+TBC)
5. GUYOT environnement – Team Europe – 2 points (1+1+0+0+0)
The Ocean Race 2022-23 Route:
Leg 1: Alicante, Spain to Mindelo, Cabo Verde
Leg 2: Cabo Verde to Cape Town, South Africa
Leg 3: Cape Town, South Africa to Itajaí, Brazil
Leg 4: Itajaí, Brazil, to Newport, Rhode Island
Leg 5: Newport, Rhode Island to Aarhus, Denmark
Leg 6: Aarhus, Denmark to The Hague, The Netherlands (with a flyby past Kiel, Germany)
Leg 7: The Hague, The Netherlands to Genoa, Italy