The tricky thing about sailing is that you cannot simply dial up the kind of wind you would like. Instead, the wind gods, with their strange and twisted sense of humor, deal you a hand mostly designed to foil and frustrate. They occasionally send along near perfect conditions which immediately wipes away all evil thoughts directed in their direction since the last time they meted out a steady breeze, but sailors are a forgiving lot. They are also a forgetful lot which accounts for the reason many keep finding themselves back out on the water cursing at the sky. So goes the story aboard Gryphon Solo as Joe Harris and Josh Hall deal with their own personal parking lot, a high pressure missive sent from above designed to make their rivals on Artforms smile and to test the mettle of a wind weary crew. After days of too much breeze Joe and Josh have been dealing with some very light and fluky air as Josh described in an email to his shore team.
"The last 24 hours have been a little testing for us here on the good ship Gryphon Solo," he wrote. "We have very light air and a weather pattern that proved to be something of an enigma. We were expecting a day or two of northeast wind. Instead, around midday, we found ourselves flat becalmed for two hours with the wind turning in circles at 0 to 2 knots. Early in the afternoon a weak westerly filled in which gradually built to a steady 7 to 8 knots and veered to the northwest." A small localize high pressure system had formed right above them dishing up some character building conditions as the Anglo American duo watched their rival Artforms to the north click off a steady 10 knots while they were going nowhere slowly. While it's frustrating to see your hard earned lead whittled away, there is a certain serenity to a patch of ocean undisturbed by the ruffles of a passing zephyr. "It's really quite beautiful out here," Josh continued. "We are working hard to keep the boat moving but every now and then we just sit and look at the scenery and marvel. Last night we had clear skies and a close to full moon making for a beautiful night."
The unexpected conditions have also effected their closest competition, Servane Escoffier and Bertrand de Broc on Vedettes de Breha. At the latest poll the sistership to Gryphon Solo had dropped back to over 150 miles astern, and with the gap between the two Finot boats increasing Joe is turning his full attention to Kip Stone on Artforms. They are currently 280 miles ahead of the sailor from Maine, but as most sailors know, it's a lead that can be quickly scuttled once the race enters the doldrums. It's much easier attacking from behind than it is defending from the front. "One of the advantages Kip has is that he can see what's happening to us and he can avoid some of the pitfalls," Joe said in a satellite phone call. "Kip has made a distinct move to the west gybing down the rhumbline and has so far successfully avoided this calm patch." In fact at last poll Artforms was the most western boat in the Open 50 fleet. "Since there is not much we can do about it we will just continue to keep an eye on Kip and Merf and sail our own race. For now we are working hard to plan our strategy for the doldrums where we expect to be later this week."
Gryphon Solo is currently 180 miles northeast of the Cape Verde Islands looking to skirt the island group to the west sometime Wednesday.
Via Satellite: New Audio Posted Today
There are two new audio recordings at gryphonsolo.com. [ CLICK HERE TO LISTEN ] Joe discusses the current conditions as well as their tactics as related to their competition. The next update will be on Friday morning unless there is breaking news.