"This boat has the best karma of any boat I have ever sailed. I feel like I am sailing under a safe and lucky star aboard Gryphon Solo and that she will take care of me as long as I take care of her."
Dateline St. George's Bermuda: According to the iBoatTrack Leader Board unofficial standings, Joe Harris' Gryphon Solo has not only set a new solo course record for the Bermuda 1-2 of 62h:37m, but he has also won Class 6 and stands second in Fleet.
Joe and crewmate Dobbs Davis will sail the double-handed leg from Bermuda to Newport starting on June 22nd. They'll have their eyes on the double-handed record.
Notes from Joe Harris after breaking the solo Bermuda 1-2 record.
Tuesday Morning June 12:
At 0137 EDT Tuesday morning I crossed the finish line off Mills Breaker Buoy in Bermuda and heaved a large sigh of relief and satisfaction. It was a very fast and hard race and it was really satisfying to cross the line and set a new course record.
The downwind conditions really suited Gryphon Solo, and we planed along very happily through most of the race. I can't remember an ocean race where I never reefed the main or sailed the boat upwind at all. Instead, I was focused on the navigation and strategy and changing between downwind and reaching sails, always trying to get that last bit of performance out of Gryphon Solo.
This boat has the best karma of any boat I have ever sailed. I feel like I am sailing under a safe and lucky star aboard Gryphon Solo and that she will take care of me as long as I take care of her.
Looking back, the key moment in the race came when I exited the Gulf Stream after a very fast sail though it, and was becalmed and in danger of being sucked in a Southwest direction. After all the fast sailing to that moment, I saw my race going down the tubes as the wind vaporized and the boat was pulled by a three knot current in the opposite direction to where I wanted to go.
Luckily, the wind filled in as forecast and I put the spinnaker up and was off to the races again, breathing a large sigh of relief.
As I made my final approach to Bermuda from about 200 miles out, I was waiting for the wind to shift from a northerly to a westerly direction and set my strategy with that in mind. That shift took a little longer than expected but ultimately did come, and I broad reached to Bermuda at a boat speed equal to the wind speed, varying between 12 and 20 knots, at a true wind angle of about 110'. Glorious.
Wednesday Morning June 13:
On the dock here at the St. Georges Dinghy Club in Bermuda we are welcoming competitors as they finish the race and come in to drop anchor and go stern-to the concrete dock her at the Dinghy Club. Everyone has a story of a hairy event or bungled maneuver, a kite in the water, a broach or a sail tearing and going in the drink.
Solo sailing always presents challenges, as there are simply not enough hands to do most jobs so you really have to think each maneuver through and not make mistakes. Inevitably something goes off plan and then the challenge is to get out of the jam with a minimum of lost time, equipment damage or injury. These six sailors that have finished have all done this race multiple times and are pretty salty dogs. It is great to look back and reminisce about races we have done together going back more than a dozen years. A certain bond definitely forms from sharing such a challenge and there is a great spirit of connectedness among the skippers. If anything were to happen out at sea I am sure each of these guys would come to my assistance in a heartbeat and that is a very good feeling.
The big news is that Ryan Finn aboard "Myrna Minkoff", the Mini- transat 22' boat, has finished well ahead of many larger boats and ahead of his fellow mini sailors. The minis are in a class of their own in a "demonstration division" as it is their first year in the race so they are basically competing only against themselves this year until the race committee gets a handle on how to handicap them.
These Open 650 boats look like a scaled down version of my Open 50, with lots of beam carried aft and flat, planning underbodies. They are very quick and a handful to sail solo, but have been a breeding ground in Europe for sailors that go on to compete in around the world solo races in larger boats. I'm not sure I would put to sea in a 22' boat, so my hat is off to these guys for taking on the challenge. My Open 50 look gigantic by comparison, but I wouldn't want to cross oceans in a boat too much smaller.
So now the work turns to getting the boat ready for the return leg and hitting the work list of maintenance and repairs. And perhaps the occasional Dark and Stormy. My family arrives on Friday for a week holiday in Bermuda which we are all really looking forward to.
For the details, go to 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.