Le Havre, France - Oct 31, 2005 - Joe Harris and his team raced in the TJV Prologue event last Friday aboard his Open 50 "Gryphon Solo".
The Prologue race for each class in the Transat Jacques Vabre is organised as a promotional event to showcase the yachts to press and public but is taken very seriously by the teams as it is a chance to go head to head with their competitors. The prize was well worth going for as well – free loan of a new Renault support vehicle for the 2006 season for the winning team in each class.
The course was a short windward – leeward circuit in front of the beach at Le Havre, offering the chance for much close-quarters action and plenty of maneuvers for the team of 5 aboard each yacht.
"Gryphon Solo's" principle competition in the upcoming Transat Jacques Vabre is fellow American, Kip Stone and his new Open 50 "Artforms", and sure enough the two boats were neck and neck from the start line to the first mark. A small error by Joe's team allowed "Artforms" to creep ahead by 500 metres at the second mark but then came a 3 mile downwind run under spinnaker. "Gryphon Solo" split away from "Artforms" and after two well executed gybes arrived at the third mark in the course just metres ahead. An exciting duel to the buoy ensued with "Gryphon Solo's" apparently superior downwind boat speed seeing her round in first place.
10 minutes later with "Gryphon Solo" well ahead and in full control of the race for the final circuit of the course, both she and "Artforms" received a disqualifying black flag from the umpire as they had both inadvertently rounded the previous mark the wrong way.
"We were really disappointed to be disqualified when we had the race in the bag," said Joe Harris. "However, after all the hard work this year to optimise the boat, we were extremely pleased to see we are the equal of "Artforms" upwind and appear to be substantially faster downwind – and the TJV is a downwind race!"
The next week will be spent on final preparations of "Gryphon Solo" prior to the 5th November start of the TJV 2005, the 5,000 mile two-handed race from Le Havre, France to Salvador, Brazil.