Saturday, June 9th, 2007
Gryphon Solo is back out on the high seas beating a hasty path for the familiar island of Bermuda. The Bermuda 1-2 race began at 1100 hours today just outside of Newport harbor. The boat and crew (yours truly) were well prepared having just completed and "ocean triangle" from Newport to Charleston to Bermuda to Newport, which covered about 2,200 ocean miles. We worked hard on the boat all week at Newport Shipyard and have the old girl in pretty good shape at the moment. This will be my sixth Bermuda 1-2 as I did two with my father, Woody Harris, aboard my C&C 40 "Shiva", and two more aboard my Aerodyne 38 Gryphon and the last one in 2005 on Gryphon Solo. It is a great low-key race without a lot of the hassles larger races and always attracts an eclectic and intrepid band of solo sailors.
As I motored out to the start the conditions were fog, drizzle and no wind. The breeze sprang up to a mighty 5 knots which was barely enough to keep us going against the incoming tide. The wind was directly behind us from the North so I set our Code Zero sail and slid across the starting line just ahead of my friend Michael Millard aboard the Open 40 "Wild Eyes". We ooched out of the harbor until I got just past the Castle Hill light when the breeze died completely. I took the opportunity to change sails from the Code Zero to our spinnaker or "kite" and waited for the new wind. It came up as predicted out of the East and suddenly we were all moving again and I had to take down the kite and go back to the Code Zero due to the change in the direction of the wind. I managed to screw this maneuver up a little as the sail began to unroll before I had it all the way up and I created quite a little mess. My friend, marine photographer Billy Black came by and said, "Joe, are you having a tough time deciding which sail to use?" I replied that I knew which one I wanted, I just couldn't seem to get it flying! Billy took lots of photos of me flailing away as I fixed my mess and got the boat going again. I hope those photos are not widely distributed.
After getting sorted out, Gryphon Solo has really started to hit her stride with speeds of 10 to 12 knots in tight reaching conditions. GS is the largest boat in the fleet with a handicap that owes everyone many hours (or days) of time so my goal here, like in the Charleston race, is to try to be first to finish and not worry too much about the corrected time scores. The forecast is for good wind conditions for the next two days so I need to make some hay before the wind becomes the dreaded "light and variable" on Tuesday. If I make it in before the wind quits I will be a hero and if I don't, all the little guys will catch me and I will be the goat. Pretty simple.