Gryphon Solo crossed the finish line off St. David's Lighthouse in Bermuda at 2:51 AM EST on Wednesday morning of June 21st, taking first place in the Demonstration Division of the Centennial running of the Newport-Bermuda Race. After a fast first 36 hours, the race slowed to a crawl as very light winds out of the South - "right on the nose" as sailors say - made it a painfully slow sail the last 350 miles from just south of the Gulf Stream to Bermuda. Gryphon Solo is a boat that is designed to excel in stronger wind conditions than we experienced, as our canting keel and dagger boards were not used in the light winds, we felt that we were unable to "get our key weapons out of the holster" or "get our best tools out of the toolbox" - pick your metaphor. Nonetheless, we sailed a good tactical race and our crew of five really did a great job of getting every last tenth of a knot of boat speed out of GS.
As we approached the last ten miles to the finish line, it was incredible to see about 50 boats all converging on Bermuda from both the west and the east, showing the different choices navigators had made in routing their vessels from Newport. As the sun set with spectacular pink and orange colors in the sky, the darkness removed the boats from view and left only their white, green and red navigation lights visible. As we closed on the finish line, which was dead upwind, boats were furiously tacking back and forth in very close proximity to one another, causing a number of "port-starboard" right-of-way situations and some very hairy crossings within inches of other boats. Needless to say, it was very exciting racing, and left us all completely exhausted as we finished at 3 AM and then had to sail the boat around the island from St. George's to Hamilton, where we finally docked her at about 6 AM. We all jumped into the clear Bermuda water, had a rum and coke and crashed in our bunks for a little sleep. I was greeted only an hour later by 2 year old son Emmett jumping on my chest shouting "Daddy, Daddy" and quickly shifted roles from racing sailor to Daddy mode. We headed for the pool and had a great day in the warm Bermuda sun.
Sailing to Bermuda has to be one of the most rewarding trips a sailor can make as it is always a challenging sail - whether due to high winds or low winds or Gulf Stream currents and squalls - and their is nothing so sweet as that first smell of Bermuda and that first dive into the crystal clear 80 degree water. This race was especially nice in that we were able to win our class, defeating the 100' mega-yacht "Maximus" which is a brand new, very hot machine from New Zealand. We will attend the prize-giving ceremonies and then head back to Boston on Saturday.
Thank you all for tuning in to these reports and I look forward to sailing with many of you in either Boston or Newport later this summer.