Boston, MA, - Joe Harris has sailed since the young age of four, yet he has never crossed the horizon alone with the daunting task of traversing an ocean. On Monday, May 31, as we kick-back for a picnic on Memorial Day in the United States, Joe Harris will be taking a large step forward in his life aboard Wells Fargo-American Pioneer, to accomplish a dream of sailing solo around the globe. The Transat race is Harris' first hurdle in a marathon goal to compete in the next 5-Oceans event, a grueling solo sprint around the world in 2006-7. He will be cutting his teeth in an elite arena of the world's best solo sailors, 'with 37 pros on a course that spans the chilly North Atlantic, a region known for brutal winds often exceeding 50 knots and littered with icebergs. The Transat starts at 14:00 local time on Monday, May 31 in Plymouth, England and ends 3,000 miles to the southwest in Boston, Massachusetts - Harris' home town.
How does one prepare for their first solo ocean passage in such a competitive environment?
"This is no impulse voyage," said Harris. "More than four years ago, I saw the opportunity to begin my planning and prep for The Transat. I purchased an Aerodyne 38 and started using her as a trial horse with dozens of solo and short-handed sails. I then prepurchased Brad Van Liew's winning Open-50 race boat as he finished the Around Alone and recruited Brad for some offshore training, his wife for sponsorship and PR, and a top notch shore support team for the boat. I also began training with Dr. Claudio Stampi on sleep deprivation and Ken Campbell at Commander's Weather on weather analysis. In my mind I am taking a calculated risk with all the best training and preparation that one can attain in this unpredictable and risky sport. "
Harris' realistic view and impeccable planning are no surprise coming from a real estate financier, Brown University grad, MBA and Chief Financial Officer. He has spent 13 years honing his skills in the boardroom negotiating multi-million dollar real estate deals. Now he will face a new test of survival skills at sea, alone. As a solo sailor Harris will have to fulfill the role of helmsman, navigator, communicator, sail trimmer, electrician, cook, repairman and weather analyst.
The lifestyle on board is extremely challenging. Harris will sleep in mini-naps of twenty minutes and dine on AlpineAire dehydrated food. He will download satellite weather imagery using Iridium services with Telenor equipment, and analyze his performance using Raymarine instruments and software. The racecourse is sure to bring challenges that Harris has never faced before, but he has his eyes wide open to the battle ahead.
"No job is too small," said Harris. "No job is too big. People have said that getting to the start line of a major solo race is the hardest part, and I now understand their remarks. I'll be able to tell you in a couple weeks if the statement is true."
To follow Joe across the Atlantic and to get daily updates from the Wells Fargo - American Pioneer yacht, please visit www.gryphonsolo.com. Joe will be feeding the site with diary entries and photos taken aboard the yacht. Photos and video are available upon request.
In The Transat race each sailor skippers his or her craft alone from Plymouth, England to Boston, Massachusetts. The race is known as the oldest and most prestigious solo sailing race in the world and only the most serious sailors with the highest proven stamina and mental toughness venture to participate in this extreme challenge. This race is the original, and arguably the toughest of trans-ocean races, taking competitors nearly 3,000 miles upwind across the treacherous, North Atlantic.
Joe Harris, 44, is an accomplished businessman and experienced sailor who has set his sites on competing in several professional offshore races including the grand task of 5-Oceans, a solo race around the globe previously known as Around Alone. Harris currently holds the position of Chief Financial Officer at New Boston Fund, a $1.5 billion real estate investment and development company. His primary sponsors include Wells Fargo Bank, Goulston & Storrs, and New Boston Fund. He is also a husband and father of two young boys.
Meaghan Van Liew
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