Two Rhody sailors meet at Fort Adams
A few columns ago I wrote about the 2022 Newport Bermuda Race, and focused on three fast-moving foiling boats: Argo, Ultim Emotion 2, and Malama. These rigs are impressive and are part of the new paradigm shift in ocean racing. I thought that I wrote a decent and respectful nod to the race and the aforementioned boats and their edgy lines. Moreover, I felt pretty good about how the piece read for sailors and non-sailors alike. I was most impressed; however, with the 60-foot IMOCA Class foiling boat called Malama, that was skippered by a fellow Rhody sailor named Charlie Enright.
While sailing Reverie over the past year off Newport I’d duly noted this boat and found myself inking notes and learning about this emerging class while I was sailing aimlessly on my days off from the ferry docks. I also learned some facts about her skipper who hails from Barrington, and who sailed on Brown University’s sailing team; this particular guy got my attention.
After the Newport Bermuda Race was completed, Malama was sailed back to Fort Adams where she’s been berthed for the summer.
Before going sailing one day, I was going to drop off a few copies of my column for Enright and his crewmates to have as a keepsake of the race. I had planned to just leave the package at the 11th Hour Racing’s gear trailer at the fort, but as I rolled by the Alofsin Pier, there was Malama getting strapped to the dock after some sailing practice to the Vineyard. After Charlie and his gang tied up the boat, I strolled down the dock to check out the rig, and flip the columns to Skipper Charlie Enright.
I walked up to a guy who looked like he was in charge and said, “Hey, Capt., I’m a small-potatoes columnist and wrote something about your team and your boat, could you pass these copies on to them?” The guy was busy with his crew and shore-side team, and as he thanked me I just ghosted the dock to get out of their way. I then headed over the D.E.M. building to grab a Del’s Lemonade, and do some reading. I usually sit on a little bench in the shade at the fort on my days off, and read while waiting for the wind to air up and go sailing.
As I sipped and read, a woman came up to me and shook my hand, “We really liked your column,” said a Britisher named Emily.
“Oh, thanks,” I said, “I’m so glad you guys liked it.”
A few minutes later a guy comes up to me and says, “Hey, you’re cool.” (I almost laughed in his face.)
“Why thanks, Charlie I’m glad you liked the column. I did my best for you guys,” I said.
I was happy that Charlie and Emily simply took the time to read the piece, let alone like it. Enright’s sailing resume is prodigious and intimidating; I felt that this guy could be a tough room; however, as a writer I felt good about my effort. Skipper Charlie Enright then joined his team under a little tent and ate sandwiches from a cooler. I was clocking this guy as he spoke to his gang about getting ready to head across the Atlantic to Concarneau in Brittany,
where the team would continue their preparations for the Mt. Everest (without oxygen) of sailboat racing. The event is aptly named simply, The Ocean Race. (Google this) What struck me while watching Enright was that I was witnessing a true leader in action. I was impressed how the guy spoke to his team regarding how they must stay focused and be ready for anything in the upcoming days. Enright talked in a direct manner as his eye contact lasered
his team. They were all eyes and ears. Impressive and necessary stuff. Leader stuff.
After I closed my book and finished my Del’s, I asked 11th Hour Racing’s and Malama’s Press Correspondent Emily Caroe if she could take a picture of me and Charlie before I went sailing. The Skipper was all in and stepped over to me as Emily snapped a couple of pictures. As she took the shots, I felt something in my hand and when I looked down I saw that there was a bronze plaque that Charlie placed there. (When a boat completes the Newport Bermuda Race the skipper is given a plaque to affix to his boat.) I was gobsmacked by this gesture and really didn’t know what to do or say. Subsequently, I said so long to these folks and walked away pretty baffled. I really didn’t know what to
make of what had just happened.
Of course I wouldn’t think of putting this plaque aboard my beat up old Ericson 30, Reverie so I decided to use it as a bookmark in my favorite collection of short stories by my favorite writer - Tom McGuane. It just made sense for me
to do this because both of these guys are masters of their work. I’m still shaking my head about this gesture.
While out sailing off Beavertail last Wednesday, I was hoping to see Malama up on her foils after practicing for her trip to Brittany. As I was sailing back into the bay I saw this intense racing boat a mile off my stern. She was just flying her mainsail as she approached Castle Hill Inn. I maneuvered Reverie and timed a tack across the bay so I could sail alongside Charlie and his gang. As I came up on his port stern quarter I yelled, “Hey Charlie, it’s the writer guy for The Block Island Times!”
“Hey,” he yelled, “did you put the plaque on your boat?”
“No, but it’s in a cool book,” I yelled.
After that exchange I figured it was proper to mount the plaque on my sailboat. Permission granted, as it were. It’ll be placed on Reverie this week and it will inspire me with my writing this winter while I crank out my columns on my boat in Newport.
Meeting Charlie Enright was a memorable example of happenstance. Although I have 32 years on this fellow Rhode Island sailor, and just sail aimlessly in the bay by myself, we share a simple love of sailing and messing around in boats. Charlie Enright just happens to sail around the globe in a savage racing boat.
On 7-31-2022 at 1600 hours, Malama and her crew left Newport on a 10-day crossing of the Atlantic to continue on their quest of The Ocean Race. Finally, in May 2023, you can bet your nickels that you’ll find me in the throng gathered at Fort Adams hooting and cheering on fellow Rhody sailor Charlie Enright, Malama, and her crew. Godspeed one and all!
For more information, go to 11th Hour Racing website, https://www.11thhourracingteam.org/