September 21, 2008
I am writing this time not from the navigation station of the good ship Gryphon Solo, but instead from behind my desk on dry land. This correspondence is intended to update many of you who have inquired about whether the Big Red Boat and its faithful skipper intend to race around the world, so if this subject matter is not of interest to you, please feel free to exit, so I may continue without fear of boring anyone.
As many of you know, I have been planning for some time to compete in a solo race around the world called the Portimao Global Ocean Race (PGOR). However, after much preparation and with the race only one month away, I have decided not to participate. The reasons for this decision are many, but it basically begins and ends with my family- Kim, Griffin, Emmett and Sophie Grace Harris. Although I have been dreaming of sailing around the world for about 30 years and have come to the precipice twice before, the dream will have to wait a little longer.
This decision did not come easily. After buying Gryphon Solo in 2004 and participating in the Transat Race, solo from England to Boston, I left my job at New Boston Fund at year end 2006 in order to participate in the initial running of the PGOR in October 2007. Josh Hall and I conceived of this round-the-world race during the Transat Jacques Vabre Race in November 2005. While surfing along in the Southern Atlantic under clear skies and big kite, we mused that the format and traditions of the old "AroundAlone" race- the original, "Granddaddy" of round the world solo sailing races- needed to be revived. Through much hard work and determination, Josh Hall and Brian Hancock turned that idea into the PGOR, and they are to be congratulated for their patience and perseverance. The only problem was that instead of the race starting in the fall of 2007, the race was postponed until the fall of 2008, due to difficulties in obtaining a title sponsor. This presented a problem for me, as I had quit my job and was all dressed up and ready to go to the prom in 2007.
While waiting for the race situation to sort itself out, a couple of things happened. First, Kim and I gave birth (surprise!) to a little blonde baby girl we named Sophie Grace Harris. Now, with three small people running around the house in relative chaos, I began to rethink my priorities. Sailing solo around the world was how I had defined myself. On the one hand, pursuing and achieving your dream is a pretty good example to set for your kids, eh? On the other hand, leaving your wife who works full time with three kids under the age of 10 for nine months is a big ask and could potentially have some undesirable side effects (nausea, vomiting, divorce etc.). Throwing a big pot of money at the situation would have helped, and I tried every angle to land a title sponsor for this race, but was ultimately not able to find a corporate partner.
To add to the dilemma, I had actually found a job that I was really enjoying. I was hired by a group called Cross Harbor Capital Partners, a real estate private equity firm in Boston, to work on the acquisition of an amazing place in the wilderness of southern Montana called the "Yellowstone Club". Tromping around in the mountains and envisioning a residential community built around the world's only big-time private ski mountain had me more jazzed about work than I have been in some time. As a result, I am forming my own development management company to pursue this project and others involving the ocean and the mountains and look forward to speaking with my real estate friends more about that.
So... with the arrival of our third child coupled with a pretty cool job opportunity, the scales began to tip in favor of staying home. The final straw came when the other boats in the 50' class in the PGOR all failed to make the starting line, so I would have been the only entry in the 50' class sailing solo, while all for the other six competitors are in the 40' class sailing double-handed (two people), so it would have been a bit of an odd race. After torturing myself with this decision for way too long, I guess it is time to move on to a new chapter. I have put Gryphon Solo up for sale or charter, but will continue to actively race (we will be doing the Pineapple Cup race from Ft. Lauderdale to Montego Bay, Jamaica this February), but also look forward very much to cruising with the family, as soon as everyone can walk and speak English.
Thus it would appear I have come to the end of this chapter of the Gryphon Solo campaign. I want to thank of all you who joined the campaign and sent such wonderful emails of support along the way.
Until the next voyage... Fair winds and following seas to all.