Greetings friends of Gryphon Solo,
It has been some time since I have written a "Skippers Log" so I am shaking off the rust as we prepare for the start of the biennial Newport-Bermuda race tomorrow, with over 200 boats registered to be on the start line off Castle Hill. Gryphon Solo is looking great, with fresh paint everywhere, new running rigging and all systems overhauled and in top working condition. We tuned up a few weeks ago by participating in the Figawi race, which is always a good time, so we should be good to go for the "thrash to the Onion Patch" as this race is known.
The race committee has placed Gryphon Solo in the Open Division again as we were in 2006, when we won the class, due to the fact that Gryphon Solo has a canting keel. The competition within the class is a Cookson 50 called "Privateer", a brand new Juan K designed 100' sled called "Speedboat" and the Volvo 70 "Il Mostro" from the Puma team. This class is mostly professional sailors, so the skill level is high. In the main fleet, the top new boats are a new STP 65 called "Moneypenney", "Rosebud" another STP 65 that won the Sydney-Hobart race, the new "Blue Yankee" a Reichel-Pugh 66, "Numbers" a Judel-Vrolik 66, and the venerable Rambler, a water-ballasted Reichel-Pugh 90, which will likely vie for line honors with Speedboat.
Gryphon Solo will be sailing with a crew of five- which will feel downright crowded to a solo sailor like me, including: Hugh Piggin, GS Boat Manager and highly experienced offshore sailor; Tristan Mouligne, experienced short-handed sailor with many Bermuda One-Two's to his credit; Ben Poucher, Boat Manager of the Club Swan 42 Bandit; and Dobbs Davis, writer for Seahorse Magazine and professional sailor. We really have an excellent group of guys this year so I am optimistic that we will be able to sail the boat to her maximum potential.
The weather report is calling for a moderate southwest breeze at the start which will make for a beat or a tight reach to the first waypoint at the north wall of the gulf stream. The breeze is forecast to slowly back into the west and northwest, hopefully allowing for the spinnaker to come out of the bag and get some air time. As we approach Bermuda, the wind is supposed to go into the southeast, or "right on the nose" as they say. We wouldn't want to have too much fun out here so at least we will have warm water crashing over the deck as we bash our brains out on the final approach. All of this is from the preliminary forecasts from Commanders Weather and Jenifer Clark's Gulf stream analysis, so is subject to significant change. The gulf stream seems fairly straightforward with favorable currents near the rhumbline so it would not appear necessary to sail too far from the direct course as the crow flies from Newport to Bermuda. In past years I have been guilty of wandering off this direct route in search of favorable wind or current, so I have advised my crew to banish me to the forepeak if I threaten to deviate from the simple strategy of sailing the shortest distance.
So, all looks good as the skippers assemble this afternoon at 5:00 for the Captains Briefing to get the final instructions from the race committee, then off to the traditional crew dinner and a last night of good sleep in a warm, dry, stable bed. Tomorrow night we get to watch the stars and enjoy that incredible feeling of freedom that sailing offshore provides. I will be writing a daily log each morning during the race which will be posted on our web site, www.gryphonsolo.com and you can also follow the action on the race web site, www.bermudarace.com . Fair winds and good luck to all sailors- see you on the other side.