Charlie Enright at the helm of the Vestas 11th Hour Racing boat

Charlie Enright is the Skipper of Vestas 11th Hour Racing and will compete in his second Volvo Ocean Race later this month. The race covers 45,000 nautical miles and visits 12 cities around the globe between October 2017 and June 2018.

D3O: There’s less than two weeks left until the race gets underway on 22 October. What happens between now and then?

Charlie Enright: At this point in time it’s a lot of box-checking really, trying to get our sails signed off, on-board spares sorted, things like that. We did a little bit of off-shore training early on and the plan this week was to do some in-port training, but it looks like we might have a bit of boat work to do instead. We’re just crossing all our “t’s” and dotting all our “i’s” before the race starts on the 22nd.

D3O: Musto are the official race supplier and you will be using some D3O® technology. Can you talk us through the kit?

CE: We have three different outer layers, a heavy-duty trouser that D3O provides the kneepads for, a heavy-duty smock with seals, as well as a lighter smock that we can wear when conditions allow. There’s a whole host of base layers under that that we use for the various conditions we encounter. During the first leg, you go through a bunch of different micro climates, starting with the Med, crossing the equator and then some Southern Ocean stuff as you cruise into Cape Town. You can have 90 degree temperatures on the equator, then temperatures in the low-40s in the Southern Ocean, so you have to pack for all that stuff and it can be daunting at times.

D3O: How are the kneepads performing and how important is the added impact protection?

CE: They’re great and it certainly does help in terms of preserving the gear and keeping you comfortable while you’re working around the boat. There are people on the boat that test them a lot harder than I do! We used Musto in the last race and came back to them willingly. We like to control the things that we can control and picking your gear supplier is certainly one of those things. We’ve been really happy, particularly with the outer layers that Musto’s supplied over the years.

D3O: How has the kit evolved through your career? What changes have you seen?

CE: They’ve been able to reduce the weight of the waterproof fabrics and eliminate seams and points of potential water entry. Generally, things have become a bit more malleable and form fitting. In the past, they’ve been a little more clunky and cumbersome, so those changes have definitely been for the good.

D3O: It’s a gruelling race, covering 45,000 nautical miles. How do you prepare mentally for something like this?

CE: The mental and emotional side of it is certainly a lot more daunting than the physical aspects. That’s one of the things that I, personally, underestimated last time round. It’s tough to have anything to prepare you for it because it’s a very unique scenario. Staying switched on, mentally, 24/7 is very difficult. The more you keep your mind engaged, the better your result. If you can keep yourself more engaged than your competitors, that’s what makes the difference in the end.

D3O: Is that where the race is won and lost?

CE: The cost benefit process that occurs during the decision making process, what the little decisions are, what the big decisions are, when to push, when not to push, when to take a chance, when to be conservative, all that kind of stuff is certainly the most difficult. All those decisions are a lot easier if the boat is going quickly through the water and at the end of the day, the fastest boat will win this race. It’s no different than any other sail boat race in that regard, but how fast you are in respect to the competition affects how you play the game. That’s kind of the crux of it for guys like myself.

Vestas 11th Hour Racing training for the Volvo Ocean Race

D3O: Is there a special moment that stands out from your first Volvo Ocean Race?

CE: During the last race, it was definitely Cape Horn. Rounding it is certainly a personal Everest but doing it in the manner that we did was pretty special. With the whole fleet behind us on a nice day, with a helicopter there to take a picture, that was pretty neat.

D3O: What makes you want to take part in something like this? Or come back and do it again?

CE: It’s all I know really. The Volvo Ocean Race is the pinnacle of crewed off-shore sailing and you always want to be the best and compete against the best in whatever it is that you do. People that have those desires eventually land here.


Photo credits: Will Suto/Volvo Ocean Race, Rich Edwards/Volvo Ocean Race, Martin Kerozoré/Volvo Ocean Race