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Posted by on Feb 2, 2014 in Sailboat Racing, Sailing, US |

Digital Vagabond: From Istanbul With Love

The Digital Vagabond visits Istanbul, Turkey with Volvo Ocean Race's Team Alvimedica

When I started the Digital Vagabond blog back in May 2013, I had just spent a month with Volvo Ocean Race TV in Alicante, and I was just a little bit desperate to work with the race. Since then the Digital Vagabond series has been a means of documenting all the little adventures that have come my way.

And on Friday the 24th of January, I found myself back in Spain to discuss a new job with Volvo Ocean Race (VOR): multimedia reporting. Finally.

The office was buzzing with excitement about team #5, still under wraps. VOR’s official announcement was slated to take place the following Thursday in Istanbul, Turkey. Sponsored by a Turkish medical group called Alvimedica, the team’s founding members were actually two Americans: skipper Charlie Enright of Newport, RI, and manager Mark Towill of Hawaii. They’d met in 2007 as cast-mates in Roy Disney’s Morning Light.

At the time Mark was 17, a senior in high school and the youngest sailor on set. That’s where Charlie convinced Mark to apply to his school, Brown University. Mark got in. They overlapped for one year and kept sailing together. They created the All American Offshore Team and they never took their eyes of the Volvo Ocean Race. Now they’ll be the first, and likely only American entry in the 2014-15 edition.

Charlie is 29. Mark is 26.

So jump back with me two Fridays ago, back to VOR HQ. It’s 4:30 in the afternoon and the meeting is about to wrap. That’s when I asked:

“I fly home to Newport on Monday. If Charlie doesn’t leave for Istanbul before Tuesday why not let me shadow him all the way to Turkey. You don’t have anyone covering this, right?”

The bosses looked at each other and then at me. “No, we don’t. But you’d have to book with our travel agent and it’s the weekend…

“Forget that, I’ll do it myself.”

I landed in JFK at 6:45pm on Tuesday and drove to CT. I made a tuna sandwich and ran a load of laundry in my parent’s kitchen before passing out on the couch for three hours with the cat, waking up, cleaning up the rest of the food I’d pillaged, folding my laundry and driving to Newport. I repacked my bag and met Charlie at 11:00am. We ate more tuna and packed up his Jeep.

Our flight left Boston for Istanbul via Munich at 8:15 that night. Here are some photos of the adventure so far:

Announcing Team Alvimedica on Thursday

Announcing Team Alvimedica on Thursday

Visiting the Hagia Sophia

Visiting the Hagia Sophia

Looking for symbols in Turkish Coffee

Looking for symbols in Turkish Coffee

Learning Ebru

Learning Ebru

Visiting the Water Cisterns

Visiting the Basilica Cistern

Like Team Alvimedica on Facebook

And don’t forget to follow the Volvo Ocean Race

From Istanbul with Love,
Sam