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At a Volvo Ocean Race press conference and pep rally this morning, Vestas and 11th Hour Racing announced their partnership in support of the fourth team to join the 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race. Under the leadership of two experienced sailors from the 2014-15 race, Charlie Enright and Mark Towill, the Vestas 11th Hour Racing team is set to achieve exemplary results in sport and sustainability.

Bristol, Rhode Island native, Enright and Kaneohe, Hawaii, native Towill were founders of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race entry, Team Alvimedica. In 2015, the team was the first to round Cape Horn and as the southernmost point in any around the world race, it is considered to be a pinnacle of achievement. Recognizing the amount of work it took to get the team to Cape Horn, Enright and Towill committed to returning in the 2017-18 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race and thus formed 55 South.

“It’s an exciting time: We’ve achieved a strong group of sponsors, and the boat has now been refitted and branded in Lisbon, waiting for us to get it out on the water”, Enright, Skipper of the team shared in a prepared statement. “We’re working hard on building a competitive team ahead of the Race, and have a couple of transatlantic sailings lined up for April and May.

Enright and Towill have a unique relationship with Vestas Wind. During the 2014/2015 Volvo Ocean Race and on the night of November 29, 2014, Team Vestas Wind was grounded on a reef with significant damage to the vessel. As Alvimedica was the nearest vessel, Enright and his crew stood by in safe water about 2 miles away for 9 hours, providing communications support until the rescue of the Team Vestas Wind crew was assured, and then resumed racing.

The 2017/2018 team will call at 12 ports around the world, taking the racing teams and the millions of Volvo Ocean Race fans on a 45,000-nautical-mile race around the world whilst raising awareness for the team’s vision of a cleaner, healthier environment. The race concludes in June 2018, with a special final leg passing through Aarhus, Denmark, home to Vestas. In a mark-of-the-course event, the boats make their way to the grand finale of the Volvo Ocean Race in The Hague, Netherlands.

Through harnessing the power of the wind, Vestas 11th Hour Racing supports Vestas’ goals and is a unique platform to promote Vestas’ vision to be the global leader in sustainable energy solutions. “The Volvo Ocean Race is a proven platform for Vestas and a unique strategic fit to promote our new vision and market-leading energy solutions in our key markets while engaging with customers,” said Vestas President and CEO, Anders Runevad in a prepared statement. “Furthermore, our partnership with 11th Hour Racing sends a very strong signal on climate change as two leading players within sustainability combine forces to promote sustainable solutions within wind and water”.

11th Hour Racing Co-Founder, Wendy Schmidt, who is also President of The Schmidt Family Foundation, says sailors are the most natural advocates for the health of our oceans and waterways: “Mark and Charlie have been serving as ambassadors for 11th Hour Racing for the past two years, having witnessed first hand during the last Volvo Ocean Race the many ways pollution and plastic debris are destroying ocean life and threatening all of us. Our partnership with Vestas is about inspiring positive change in the way we think about energy and the natural resources of the planet. As co-title sponsors of this team, we will engage fans in increasing understanding about our vital connection to the oceans and showcase how embedding sustainability in a top level professional sports team can drive performance, efficiency and innovation. Our work has shown us this is a winning strategy.”

Additional support for Vestas 11th Hour Racing includes two sub-sponsors: official insurance partner, Argo Group, as well as official footwear partner, Sperry.

Video of Tuesday’s announcement


For more information on Vestas 11th Hour Racing, visit www.Vestas11thHourRacing.com.

For more information on the Volvo Ocean Race, visit www.volvooceanrace.com.

A prepared press release from Sail Newport was used in the creation of this story.

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Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

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In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.