GryphonSolo2 News


GS2: Tough Day on Approach to Cape Horn
December 12, 2022

Hello Friends-

We are now just 1,400 miles from the infamous Cape Horn, and we just had a tough day.

0600- I wake to a cold and increasing wind and sea state and quickly go to the computer to review the forecast for the day, which is for winds in the 20's gusting to 30.

However, we are already seeing high 20s windspeed and it looks to be increasing. We have too much sail up. We have had 3 reefs in the mainsail and our workhorse/jackknife A3 fractional gennaker up for quite a while as it is a downwind, heavy air sail, but we have left it up too long and it is getting abused. Just as I am thinking about this, the sail rips all the way down the luff (front end) of the sail and now we have a shit show on our hands.

I call Roger on deck and we discuss what to do, as the situation is basically out of control and the sail is shredding itself before our eyes and streaming into the water. We decide to drive the boat deep downwind and sheet what is left of the sail in hard behind the mainsail and then partially release the tack line which has the furler attached to it and try to wrestle the sail onto the foredeck in the lee of the mainsail and then down the forward hatch.

Some of the sail goes in the water and I fight to get it back over the lifelines as Roger lowers the halyard and we stuff the sail, along with a fair bit of seawater, down the hatch. We have to detach the furler at the bow and untie the sheets before we can get the sail fully below deck and we lose it a few times into the water as we struggle on the pitching foredeck. Finally, it is all below deck and we heave a sigh of relief that the damage wasn't worse and begin to clean up.

As we think the wind is going to stay at about 30k and we are going downwind, I elect to unroll the Solent, or primary jib. It isn't long before the wind is gusting to 40K, then 45k and we clearly should have put up the smaller staysail instead of the larger solent jib. The boat is rocketing along at 15-26k of boat speed and careening down the waves, somewhat overpowered and out of control.

I am kicking myself again for having too much sail up, a mistake I don't make very often, but have now made twice trying to be aggressive and make gains in the race rather than take care of the boat. Bad decisions. So we continue surfing along in winds of 40k and seas of 25' and it is a wild ride. I have my heart in my mouth and am praying the Solent jib does not tear. Two torn sails in one day would be a very bad day. Luckily, the Solent holds together.

After about 3 hours of piloting this bucking bronco and freezing my ass off, the front passes and the wind moderates to mid 20's, gusting low 30's and I think we are out of the woods.

We are now in a favorable WSW wind as we head SE towards Cape Horn. I realize we have entered the CH "no mistake zone" and I will have to be better attuned to the rapidly changing weather. This small but powerful low-pressure cell that nailed us was not initially forecast to be nearly so strong and took us somewhat by surprise, but we have to be prepared for the worst down here.

The lesson is to take care of the boat, our sails and ourselves in this cold, hostile "Roaring Forties" environment. With one week to go before rounding the Horn, now is a good time to be reminded of this.

Merry pre-Christmas wishes to all- Roger and I hope to be back home in New England for the holidays if all goes to plan. On to Ushuia!

Joe and Roger on GS2 12/11/22

GryphonSolo2 Campaign / Joe Harris Ocean Racing
471 Bridge Street, Hamilton, MA 01982
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