Volvo Ocean Race will boost R.I. sailing, tourism


Charlie Enright, a Bristol resident and a professional sailor, called sailing around the world ´┐Żan amazing opportunity´┐Ż and anticipates pulling into Rhode Island during the Volvo Ocean Race will be a highlight.

Charlie Enright, a Bristol resident and a professional sailor, will be racing around the world for the first time in the Volvo Ocean Race, a Grand Prix competition that runs from Oct. 4, 2014 through June 27, 2015, with the only North American stopover in Newport from May 5-17. Enright's team, Team Alvimedica, will join Team SCA (with fellow American Sally Barkow onboard), Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Dongfeng Race Team and Team Brunel in the race, which will be contested over 38,739 nautical miles and nine months. The race starts in October in Alicante, Spain and finishes in Gothenburg, Sweden.

PBN: What is your first vivid memory of sailing and how did that influence you to become a sailor?

ENRIGHT: My first memory of sailing by myself would have been in an Optimist dinghy that somebody left behind at a boatyard in Bristol. My folks got me a sail for it and my grandfather was a boat builder. He would let me sail tied to the dock and I would get going but then run out of leash. It was only me and the boat but as I learned I'd run out of real estate. It was pretty funny to figure out how you could actually make it all work within the confines of being tied to the dock. Sailing has always been in my blood, it was kind of the only thing I ever focused on.

PBN: How long have you worked at North Sails Rhode Island and what do you do there?

ENRIGHT: In 2008, Brown University hosted the collegiate national sailing championships. The next day I started working at North Sails in sales. I help customers with their new sails and sail with them domestically. I come as part of the package: make sure the sails fit and help them race and achieve beneficial results.

PBN: How did you hear about the Volvo Ocean Race and how early did you start planning to be a part of it?

ENRIGHT: It's a pretty popular event in the sport of sailing so it's something I learned about through osmosis over time. But I realized I wanted to be part of it in 2007 while I was participating in the "Morning Light Project," a documentary put on by Roy Disney about young sailors competing in the trans-Pacific yacht race. While participating in that project, some of our coaches were Volvo Ocean Race veterans. Through my experiences with them, the Volvo became something I was committed to carrying out.

PBN: How often does the Volvo take place and have you raced in it before?

ENRIGHT: It takes place approximately every three years and I have not raced in it before.

PBN: What are you looking forward to in this competition?

ENRIGHT: The journey. Sailing around the world is an amazing opportunity. And pulling into Rhode Island in Newport in May 2015 will definitely be a highlight.

PBN: What does the presence of this race in Newport mean to the sailing community here and internationally?

ENRIGHT: Newport is a sailing mecca, so having the race come here is a dream come true for most sailing Rhode Islanders. Newport was fortunate enough to host the America's Cup World Series in 2012 and I think this will raise sailing awareness even more both locally and abroad.

PBN: What do you hope your participating in the race will bring to the Volvo?

ENRIGHT: Hopefully, the local market will definitely be more engaged with a home team in the race. The data shows stopovers are more successful when they have a home team associated with them.

PBN: What is your strategy going into the race?

ENRIGHT: Our strategy is to learn as much as we can in the early legs and make sure we're peaking at the right time in terms of speed at the end.

PBN: What will be the biggest test of your endurance during the race?

ENRIGHT: Probably the southern ocean leg from Auckland [New Zealand] to Itajai, Brazil. It's the longest, most grueling leg of the race. The southern ocean has the most wind and largest waves and this leg is the longest distance in nautical miles - close to 7,000.

PBN: What do you see as the chief challenges to the sailing industry today?

ENRIGHT: The global economy. As goes the global economy, so goes the marine industry.

PBN: Is that because it's an expensive sport?

ENRIGHT: It is and isn't. The marine industry is a microcosm of everything else. But in sailing today you definitely see a wealth gap that is also reflected in society. For sailing to prosper we need to grow the sport in the middle.

PBN: What will the Volvo Ocean Race do for the boating and tourism industries in Rhode Island?

ENRIGHT: Provide a boost. Newport is one of the smaller stopover cities, so I'm sure that the town will be at maximum capacity, especially early in the tourism season.


Charlie Enright

POSITION: Skipper for the American-flagged entry in the Volvo Ocean Race

BACKGROUND: Charlie Enright is a Rhode Island native who has accumulated thousands of offshore miles and inshore racing results. In 2010, he led the Genuine Risk 90-foot yacht to victory in the Newport-Bermuda Race and skippered the Oakcliff All-American Offshore Team to victories in the Transatlantic and Rolex Fastnet Races in 2011. He was a four-time College Sailing All-American while at Brown University. He works in sales at North Sails Rhode Island, managing multiple sailing campaigns.

EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in business economics from Brown University, 2008

FIRST JOB: Teaching sailing to youths in Bristol


AGE: 29