SAN DIEGO (AP) — Ivy Leaguers Charlie Enright and Mark Towill have two years to prepare for their third round-the-world race, a welcome change from their first two attempts, when they were scraping together funding with just months to spare.
Enright and Towill announced Wednesday that they've renewed their sponsorship with 11th Hour Racing with the intention of entering The Ocean Race, formerly the Volvo Ocean Race, in 2021-22.
They're currently training in France on a foiling IMOCA 60 similar to what will be used in The Ocean Race. They'll compete in the Transat Jacques Vabre from France to Brazil this fall and select a crew before formally entering The Ocean Race.
The team will be called 11th Hour Racing.
"We're excited that we've got a few good years ahead of us," Towill said by phone from France. "The last two races for us, we've started with six months before the start, so here we are over two years before the start of The Ocean Race, which we haven't entered yet. It is a welcome opportunity to have time on our hands, and to have a continuation with the same partners is a great thing, as well."
Towill of Honolulu and Enright of Bristol, Rhode Island, met while attending Brown. They previously teamed up to lead Team Alvimedica (2014-15) and Vestas 11th Hour Racing (2017-18) in the Volvo Ocean Race.
They finished fifth in the seven-boat fleet in the last edition after two major setbacks. They collided with a fishing boat while approaching Hong Kong at the end of Leg 4, killing one fisherman, sinking the fishing boat and damaging the yacht. They missed two legs while their yacht was being repaired.
Later in the race, they dismasted near the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean.
They finished fourth out of seven boats in 2014-15.
"We set out to try to do this race for almost a decade now, not just to do it but to try to win it," Towill said. "We've done it twice. The first time was about learning and doing the best we could. The last one was late, albeit competitive, and we had some misfortune. This time we're in it early and there's nothing we're more focused on than to try to win the race.
"The more you do it, the harder it is to get away from it, it seems," he added. "It kind of sucks you in. It's hard to think about doing anything else."
Based in Rhode Island, 11th Hour Racing works with the sailing community and maritime industries to protect and restore ocean health.
Towill and Enright said they share 11th Hour Racing's passion for ocean health.
Enright said one of the best experiences about sailing around the world "is probably the marine life that we're fortunate enough to lay eyes on in the middle of nowhere. We kind of take it for granted."
The worst thing, he said, is pollution. "Ocean plastic is one of the worst things we see out there. More than that, as it pertains to marine wildlife, is entanglement. That's the real visual sign of the problem. A lot of the work with micro plastics doesn't provide the visual that entanglement does."
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