Greetings from Gryphon Solo Race Headquarters
We have been furiously preparing the good ship Gryphon Solo for the upcoming Bermuda 1/2 race and are just about ready as the race starts in Newport on Friday June 3rd at 1100 hours. This race is sailed in a format where the boats race from Newport to Bermuda solo (one crew), then race back from Bermuda to Newport double-handed, (two crew). It is the first race we are participating in since last year's Transat Race from Plymouth England to Boston, MA and kicks off the second phase of the Gryphon Solo campaign in 2005. Check out our renewed web site @ www.gryphonsolo.com for the complete race schedule. Thanks to Blake Jackson at Perceptive Sites for the new look and functionality of the web site.
It has been a strenuous spring in getting the boat ready as we went into the boatyard shed a little late for some major work and have been playing catch-up ever since. The two major improvements we implemented over the winter were new daggerboards, and new hydraulic pistons and controls for the canting keel. These were both fairly complex projects that required a great deal of coordination between the designer and builder and we are just now finishing up. The daggerboards act like a centerboard to prevent the boat from slipping sideways through the water when the keel is canted to windward, and the new larger, more hydro-dynamically designed boards should improve the boat's performance to windward. The keel hydraulics allow the keel to be canted to either side approximately 40 degrees, which causes the boat to heel up to 10 degrees. This allows the boat to carry more sail while remaining in a more upright posture while going to windward. In addition to these improvements we replaced all the boats standing and running rigging (the rope lines that control the sails), as well as replacing much of the deck hardware. While the boat is now seven years old and has raced around the world twice, she is once again in impeccable condition and ready to go offshore.
I want to thank the crack crew of Brian Harris, Rick Williams and Laurent who have been working on the boat for the last three months. Without their hard work, we would not be on the starting line Friday. In addition to leading the shore-side crew, Brian Harris will be my sailing partner for the return leg of the Bermuda 1/2, as well as the upcoming Marblehead (Massachusetts) to Halifax (Nova Scotia) Race in July and the Transat Jacque Vabre race from LaHavre, France to Salvadore, Brazil in November. I am looking forward to sailing with Brian, who knows these type of boats very well, having been around the world twice supporting two Open Class 60 monohull racing campaigns over the last eight years.
I also want to thank my Public Relations and Sponsor support team of Nancy Sarles and my sister Wendie Demuth. They have each worked tirelessly at sponsor acquisition and fulfillment and I am lucky to be working with two such talented professionals. While we have a great group of sponsors including Wells Fargo Bank, Goulston and Storrs, New Boston Fund, Iridium, Harken, Doyle Sailmakers and Alpine Aire Foods, we are still searching for a title sponsor for the next two Phases of the campaign, which include this years activities as well as the solo around-the-world 5-Oceans race in November 2006. If any of you have any ideas please contact me at: Joe@GryphonSolo.com.
Finally I want to thank my wife Kim and two sons Griffin, age seven and Emmett age 20 months, for understanding my crazy passion for offshore solo sailing. Without their support I would be lost. I also want to thank all my friends and colleagues at New Boston Fund for their support and help while I'm out of the office.
So, I must return to boat preparation, weather and routing analysis for the "dash to the Onion Patch" as Bermuda is called. I will be reporting from the boat every day while racing offshore and sailing writer Brian Hancock will provide race commentary in the same insightful way he did for the Transat Race. I am a little nervous as we approach our first race of the year as we have not had much sailing time and I am still recovering from knee surgery performed in March to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in my right knee incurred while skiing. So I think I will just try to get a clean start, point the boat in the right direction, and work hard to get all I can out of this awesome boat. Wish me luck- I could use some!!