Monday, July 9, 2007
Our first night out in the Halifax race was a light air affair. After a couple of rain squalls and wind into the upper teens in the afternoon, through the night the wind vacillated between 5 and 10 knots, with flat seas and a starry night slowly giving way to a beautiful sunrise. We went back and forth between our Solent big jib and the Code Zero, looking for the best combination of boat speed and pointing ability. The wind has been entirely from the ESE or "on the nose" as they say, so Gryphon Solo has not yet had the chance to break free from her shackles and run wild. The forecast is calling for the wind to go into the south, which would allow us to reach off and hopefully make some gains on our fellow IRC 1 competitors. We do not know where we stand in the fleet as I understand the boat tracking system is not working at the moment. The only boat we can see is "Goshawk" a 76' sloop designed and built by Brooklin Boatyard. We have raced fairly evenly with Goshawk in the past- in the 2005 Halifax race and the 2006 Newport-Bermuda race. In these light upwind conditions I would think they would be doing a bit better than us but thus far we have been fairly even and stayed within sight of each other.
The crew is settling in to the boat and the two watches are trading friendly barbs about who is making the boat go faster. Robbie Doyle is a wizard on sail trim and the physics of sailing and it is a real pleasure to sail with him. We are experimenting with the canting keel, daggerboards and water ballast to optimize performance. Rich Wilson is telling war stories from his many extended offshore passages in chasing the clipper ship records aboard his trimaran "Great American". Rich has purchased an Open 60 formerly called "Solidaire" which was owned by Thierry Dubois and is completely refitting the boat at Maine Yacht Center in preparation for the 2008 Vendee Globe solo non-stop race around the world. We will all be helping him and cheering him on as he moves towards that goal.
So right now we have 10 knots of wind and completely flat water- it feels like lake sailing out here- and are just waiting for the breeze to increase and go aft so we can break out the "big colored sails" as my son Griffin says. Hopefully that will happen soon.