Onboard Alvimedica

When the call comes for a day to tear around an island on a Volvo 65, drop what you're doing.
Flat water, blue skies, and sails full of 15-knots of summer wind make for a superb lap around the island. Alvimedica shore team member Chris Higgens stands in to ensure the headsails get up and down without any drama. Dave Reed
Alvimedica is one of six confirmed entries for the Volvo Ocean Race, which starts in mid-October from Alicante, Spain. The team’s sponsor, a surgical device manufacturer with headquarters in Istanbul will use the race and the young team to raise its brand profile internationally. The Volvo Ocean 65 is a strict one-design so there’s an exhaustive process to change or alter the boat in anyway, says Alvimedica co-skipper Mark Towill. With limited time with the boat thus far, which includes their recent transatlantic qualifying sail from Lisbon to Newport, R.I., they’ve discovered a number of wish-list improvements, including a way to monitor water levels in the aft water-ballast tanks (fill/empty handles can be seen at the bottom of the photo, port below the “A” in Alvimedica). Another important change would be to move the aft-most deck sail-stack padeye forward 300 mm, which would allow them to tie down the bulk of the stack, rather than the tail end of it. The cooler, bottom right) was only there for the day sail. Dave Reed
Hospitality sailing is an essential part of the Volvo Ocean Race schedule, so on this day, co-skippers Charlie Enright (pictured above) and Mark Towill pulled in two shore team members to fill in for the rest of the sailing team, which are on shore leave for two weeks. Dave Reed
Passing under Pell Bridge, which connects Rhode Island’s Aquidneck and Conanicut Islands, under full main and J1 jib (the race’s required practice and in-port sail), the V.O. 65 was plenty powered up in the 15- to 20-knot westerly. “The boat is tippy,” said Enright. “The boat wants to sail upwind at 23, 24, 25 degrees of heel…it wants to go to 30 pretty fast.” To offset, maximum keel-cant is 40 degrees and teams thus far are finding they’re into the first reef fairly quickly. Dave Reed
Hawaiian Mark Towill continues to bulk up in the upper-body department, preparing for the physically demanding months ahead. “It’s pretty crazy when you think about it,” he says about the eight-man team that will sail the race. “Helmsman, trimmer, grinder . . . that’s all there will be on deck [all-hands maneuvers excluded] at any one time.” No doubt there will be plenty more turns on those handles, with all three pedestals linked in to hoist and reef sails, trim them, and adjust daggerboards. Dave Reed
Gliding down Narragansett Bay’s West Passage under full main and Code Zero, the boat came to life, knifing through rolling swells and sending plumes of light spray across the foredeck. When a puff hits and the zero gets eased, the groan of the highly loaded winches echoes through out the boat, which shutters with each burp of the sheet. Inside the boat it’s deafening. Dave Reed
Ever the cavalier kid with keys to the Ferrari, Charlie Enright happily tore around Conanicut Island at 20 knots in less than two hours, even with a half-dozen guests, a few media types, and a couple of guys he pulled off the docks at the Newport Shipyard (the crew of the Chicago-based Santa Cruz 52 Bodacious in town for the start of the Bermuda Race). Dave Reed
Pick-up crew Ralf Steitz, of Kings Point Sailing, manhandles the big Zero. While perfectly capable of signing up for a Volvo himself, he says, “It’s a young man’s race now. I’d rather leave them to do it.” Dave Reed