2004 Transat

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Back in Second
June 14, 2004

And the beat goes on...Day 13 of this solo odyssey is about to pass and it has been a beautiful sailing day with light breezes of 6 to 10 knots from the NNW. They are still a bit chilly, though not Grand Banks-type gripping cold. Racewise, I seem to be losing touch with class leader Kip Stone on Artforms, who has sailed a superb race with his new boat and is now closer to the finish by over 200 miles. The key move was my decision to split from Artforms and head South a few days ago, which has not paid great dividends. On the other extreme, the yacht Okami, which was in third place when I headed South, took an extreme northern route that had him sailing right up to the Newfoundland coast by Cape Race. That is definitely within the "Ice Zone," and I have not heard whether he has encountered any icebergs or growlers, but it is not an area where I would personally want to be sailing. Anyway, while Okami has been hugging the southern Newfoundland coast for the last two days, I have emerged from a battle with calms and reclaimed a temporary hold on second place. I think that the race between us is really a dead heat right now, with Okami coming at the finish line from the extreme north and me from the extreme south. Weather patterns will dictate who gets there first. I am sailing into another high pressure area of probable calms, but unfortunately, this time there is no avoiding it梩he high pressure area is too large. So I am going straight through it and hoping that the system is moving fast enough to the northeast that the period of calms I experience is short.

I am trying to get more mentally prepared for enduring the calms. I became extremely frustrated and depressed the previous two times I was becalmed as the weather forecast files did not predict them, and I felt victimized. This time I know what's coming so hopefully the angst of the sails slapping and the boat going nowhere as your competition heads for the finish will be less...dream on.

This race has certainly been a test at all levels. From heavy weather to no wind to bone-chilling cold and freezing rain, this has been a tough passage. When combined with my delivery of the boat from Boston to England in early May, I would say I've had more than my fair share of the North Atlantic in the springtime! The last four days of this race will be very interesting between Wells Fargo - American Pioneer and Okami. There is a good chance our paths will converge and we could have some serious boat-for-boat racing on the final approach to Boston. It is difficult to forecast when I might be finishing as the amount of time I spend going nowhere in the next 24 hours will have a big influence on how quickly I can cover the last 625 miles. A typical Newport-Bermuda Race of 650 miles will take a 50' boat about 3.5 days梙owever many of those boats are optimized for upwind sailing in light air as we will be doing against the prevailing Southwest wind. Unfortunately that is not one of this boat's strengths.

My path may take me over toward the Nova Scotia coastline which would mean I could do a Marblehead to Halifax race inside of this race as well! I am just hoping with every fiber of my body to keep the wind and not get stuck wallowing around out here for days on end, which has been known to happen. And I am deeply suspicious of weather models these days having been recently burned. I think best case would be a finish sometime on Thursday 6/17梐nother four days from here and a total passage length of 17 days. If I could achieve that and keep a hold on second place I would be very pleased for my first Transatlantic race. I read that Jacque Bouchacart, skipper of Okami has done this race twice before, winning his class both times, so he will be a formidable rival down the home stretch based on that experience. Are they laying odds in Vegas on this one? I am ready to be home soon and see my nine month old son Emmett take his first steps. Hope I don't miss them!

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