The Current Boat Dashboard
It's been a busy week for Joe Harris and Josh Hall as they continue their domination of the Open 50 monohull class aboard Gryphon Solo. With the bumps, scrapes and bruised ribs of the first few days behind them, the Anglo American duo have finally settled into the rhythm of life at sea. Their bright red Finot design is doing what it does best; eating up the miles and spitting them out the transom one boatlength at a time.
"We are finally into some really great sailing," Joe reported in a satellite phone call. "The sun is out and the wind is from behind. The boat is really enjoying the conditions and surfs easily, many times over twenty knots. We have been hand steering trying to make the most of the good conditions knowing full well that it's all going to change once we get further south."
After losing a few miles to Servane Escoffier and Bertrand de Broc on Vedettes de Breha toward the end of last week, Gryphon Solo has since recouped the miles and more than doubled them as both boats sail a fine tactical line between making some southing and getting out to the west. "Servane took a risky tactical move that paid off quite nicely by sailing through the Canaries," Joe explained. "We looked at that option but decided to leave the whole island group to the east. Vedettes made some good speed and closed the gap on us, but we have since been able to open it up again as we seem to have better wind out here to the west. Our aim right now is to keep ourselves between Vedettes and the finish, or at least the waypoint we have identified as a good place to cross the doldrums."
Tactically Joe and Josh are sailing like inshore sailors keeping themselves positioned between their competition and the finish. It's a strategy that also works well offshore as it limits the options of the boat behind. It does, however, leave them vulnerable to other competition and Joe is a little worried about Kip Stone and Merf Owen on Artforms. "They are making some good westing and have closed the gap on us a bit," he said. "Clearly they are sailing as if they have nothing to lose and by doing so they are apt to take some chances. We have to worry about Servane right now, but don't be surprised to see Artforms make some gains. There is very little we can do about it."
Joe is taking full advantage of Josh Hall's solo offshore experience and is learning as much as he can. "Josh is really great to sail with and he is pushing me and the boat harder than I would otherwise be sailing. We are hand steering, two hours on and two hours off, both during the day and through the night. It's hard work but we can really see the difference between the speeds we average when we are at the helm as opposed to letting the autopilot drive." With the temperature on deck relatively benign and the boat dry as they rocket downwind, the stint on the helm is more pleasure than pain. When not driving the two crewmates discuss tactics and shovel down platefuls of Alpine Aire freeze dried food. "It's really not too bad out here," Joe mused.
The next big tactical challenge will be the Cape Verde Islands, a picturesque archipelago that lies directly in their path. "We may end up sailing between the islands," Joe said. "We are looking at the big picture of where to enter the doldrums and right now the group of islands is directly in our path." The Cape Verde Islands are not as mountainous as the Canaries and therefore will not throw the kind of wind shadow that can play havoc with the best laid tactical strategy. Skirting between the group also offers the opportunity for a quick stop should they break something, but the crew are not thinking along those lines. "We are working hard to enter the inter tropical convergence zone just at the right place," Joe said. "If we have to sail between the islands then we will plan on enjoying a nice look at solid land."
Via Satellite: New Audio Posted Today
There are two new audio recordings at gryphonsolo.com. [ CLICK HERE TO LISTEN ] Joe discusses the past week as well as their tactics as related to their competition. The next update will be on Wednesday morning unless there is breaking news.