For Joe Harris it's Bermuda all over again. Joe had planned to skipper his big red Open 50 Gryphon Solo in the Charleston to Bermuda Race last week, but had to turn the helm over to boat manager Hugh Piggin for the race. Joe flew to Bermuda to attend the prizegiving and make a solo delivery back to Newport where he will get some R, R, & R (rest, re-provisioning and repair) for the June 9th start of the Bermuda 1-2.
In the C2B, Gryphon Solo sailed in a crewed configuration. With Piggin in command, the Open 50 took line honors as first to finish and was 8th on PHRF handicap results.
Following the C2B awards ceremony at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club on May 26, Harris set off Sunday on the 635 mile delivery to Newport RI. This will be Harris' fourth B1-2, the format of which is a single-handed race down to Bermuda and a double-handed race back, with the best combined time determining the winner. The double-handed return race starts off St George's Bermuda on June 22nd.
From somewhere north of the Gulf Stream on his return trip to Newport, Harris wrote, "On Sunday morning, I hit the road early as it takes about four hours to motor sail from the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in Hamilton harbor around the island inside the reef to exit at St. Georges. There are always some butterflies as you head for the open ocean solo, but I felt confident in the boat and hoped the weather would cooperate. The first afternoon and evening provided some wonderful sailing in warm northeasterly winds, but the wind machine turned off and I motored along at 4.5 knots with our miniature Yanmar diesel engine for about 16 hours."
"The breeze finally returned Monday morning and propelled us down the track towards the Gulf Stream, which is about at the halfway point. As is the usual protocol for entry into the Stream, I was initiated with a violent rainsquall and strong winds that had me leaping up to the cockpit to turn the boat downhill as I was drenched by the rain."
"You have to keep your guard up in the Gulf Stream as this "river through the ocean." The warm water meeting the cooler air creates its own weather patterns and usually does not let one through without a trial. The winds steadily increased Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning until I was crashing along in the dark with two reefs in the main and the staysail, with the forward half of the boat consistently covered in blue water. The problem was that the wind direction was counter to the current direction, causing the seas to become short and breaking and making the sailing very wet and lumpy. The solace was that there was a lot of wind so the discomfort was relatively short-lived as we punched through the northern wall this morning and into calmer seas."
Joe's plan was to arrive in Newport by mid-week in order to start getting ready for the Bermuda 1-2. Having already completed a 2,000 mile circumnavigation from Newport to Charleston to Bermuda to Newport, Gryphon Solo has had a good shakedown after being laid up for the winter at the Newport Shipyard. The "fixit" list is pretty long and it will be a scramble to get everything done in the coming week.
If anyone is interested in coming to Newport to watch the start of the B 1-2 next Saturday, please stop by to see Joe and Gryphon solo at Newport Shipyard in the morning and then head for Ft. Adams or Castle Hill to watch the fleet of solo sailors sail by. Then follow Joe's race reports at www.gryphonsolo.com
The 2007 BERMUDA ONE-TWO is organized by Goat Island Yacht Club, Ltd. and Newport (RI) Yacht Club, with support from the Rhode Island State Yachting Committee, the City of Newport, RI and the Town of St. George's, Bermuda. St. George's Dinghy & Sports Club is the host club in Bermuda.
Portimao Global Ocean Race ("PGOR")
Joe, as skipper and owner of Gryphon Solo, is in full pursuit of his round-the-world campaign and this is the first of three events this season as he trains for the Portimao Global Ocean Race now scheduled to start from Portimao, Portugal in September 2008. The race start was pushed back a year and the name changed to accommodate the new title sponsor and host port of Portimao. The race course remains the same, with stops in South Africa, New Zealand, Brazil and South Carolina before returning to Portugal. The big red Open 50 will also sail in the Bermuda 1-2 and the Marblehead to Halifax Race this summer.
"I'm sailing over 3,000 miles to and from Bermuda this summer," Harris quipped, "and based on my experience, no two passages will be the same." The Gulf Stream and the Atlantic are full of surprises. Then I'm off again on July 9th from Marblehead to Halifax Nova Scotia, sailing in colder water, the powerful tides found in the Bay of Fundy and equally tricky currents around Halifax. I'm looking forward to another summer of great offshore racing.
"Going to Charleston for the C2B was important for me this year," Harris commented. Charleston will be the last stop before the finish in the 2008-09 PGOR, with the race visiting the South Carolina in the spring of 2009.
Gryphon Solo is supported by sponsorship from Iridium, Doyle Sailmakers, Awlgrip/Interlux, New England Rope and Alpine Air Food and is actively seeking title sponsorship and partners in this amazing race.
The full story of Joe Harris' campaign and sponsorship opportunities for the Portimao Global Ocean Race is at www.gryphonsolo.com.