I am writing to you from the Grotto Bay Hotel in Bermuda, where we have been staying for the last week between legs 1 and 2 of the Bermuda 1-2 race. The Harris clan has had a great week of swimming, exploring, and messing about in Bermuda, but it is now time to get back to business and race the boat back to Newport double-handed.
My partner for this leg will be professional sailor and journalist Dobbs Davis, who currently travels the world sailing in various competitions and writing for Seahorse magazine. Although Dobbs and I have not sailed together before this race, we went out for a practice sail yesterday and I could see immediately that Dobbs would quickly understand the boat and that we could work together well. He is a pro, and I am sure that Gryphon Solo will move faster with his skill and experience on board.
The start was originally scheduled for noon today Bermuda time, however two of the huge cruise ships that are moored in St. Georges harbor informed the race committee that they would be exiting the harbor at noon, so we had to move our start back to 2:00 PM. There is a very narrow man-made cut that is the only entrance and exit to St. Georges harbor and it would not be a good idea to be in there when a cruise ship is going through!
The start looks like it will be downwind- like it was two years ago- when we had an exciting time with boats gybing back and forth across the narrow channel in very close quarters. Once we exit the cut, we must round the Mills Breaker buoy and then the Kitchen Shoals light and then it is next stop- Newport. The weather looks like southwest winds at the start but there is concern that it will go light as a few weak cold fronts will pass through leaving high pressure behind.
Gryphon Solo needs a good breeze to get going and achieve the speed differential that will be necessary to get out in front of the fleet and finish far enough in front to have a chance of victory on corrected time. In the first leg, I sailed to Bermuda in 62 hours, for about a 10 knot average, but we will need to go faster than that to beat the first leg corrected time winner Frog Kiss, a Freedom 44 that we owe nearly 40 hours! If we are reaching or running in 10 knots of wind or better, we have a shot. If the wind goes light and/or forward of the beam, it will be tough.
Stay tuned to this channel for all the action over the next three to four days.
Fair winds and following seas to all-