by Joe Harris
The Sail for Hope race took place in Newport, RI last weekend. This race is the traditional 'last hurrah' for most boats as the end of the sailing season is near and many boats come out of the water for winter storage on land after this race. The race took place on Saturday October 12th and the course was a lap around Jamestown Island, which is about 19 miles. The day got off on a rather amusing note, as we mis-read the sailing instruction and thought we were in Class five but were instead in Class 8. As a result, we prepared for the start of Class 5 and were right on the starting line a few minutes before the start but saw only J-22's around us so realized we had made some kind of mistake and bailed out. I nominated Julianna Barbieri to be our navigator going forward as she was the only one brave enough to radio the race committee and ask them which class we were in!
GryphonSolo2 sailing for hope
The start line was a downwind course so our plan was to sail down the line on starboard gybe and then gybe on to port and towards the first mark just before the gun. Our foredeck crew of Pat O'Connor and Trevor Davidson got really good at this as we had them rehearse it three times before we finally started in our proper class! They appreciated the extra work (not) and remarkably, we got an excellent start when we were finally in the right class!
We sailed down Narragansett Bay under our big A2 kite, battling with a big Ker 55 called Irie2 and a Swan 42 called Interlodge for clear air and an open sailing lane. The wind piped up over 20 knots and we began surfing to speeds in the mid-teens. Sparkling sunshine, great wind and a beautiful scene as we smoked southward to a bouy off Beavertail Point on the southern end of Jamestown Island. As we approached the mark, we got tangled up with Interlodge, as they gybed right in front of us and caused us to do an emergency gybe to avoid a collision and we got a little messed up and had to take the kite down a bit earlier than we otherwise would have, which slowed our final approach to the mark.
As we got close, the guys from a boat called Picante began screaming maniacally that we could not cut inside them to round the bouy, citing the racing rules of sailing regarding overlaps etc. We disagreed with their interpretation of the rules and their rude presentation and went inside them at the buoy mark and the rules discussion that ensued between Terry Halpin and Hugh Piggin on our boat and a few of their guys got a little heated. The Picante guys suggested that we perform a few maneuvers that I felt were anatomically impossible, so we sailed on up the backside of the island.
Volvo Ocean Race winner Ian Walker was voted boats.com YJA Yachtsman of the Year at Trinity House on 12 January 2016
The wind velocity continued to escalate to the mid-20's as we pounded upwind with full water ballast, passing a number of smaller boats until tacked under the center span of the Jamestown Bridge. Some of you may remember from my last correspondence that this was the site of the 'bloody hand' incident, but luckily there was no such drama this time. We passed the windward mark and reached off toward the finish line under a jib for a while. We finally felt the wind angle was wide enough to carry a spinnaker but elected the smaller fractional A6 kite instead of the larger A2 given the velocity and tight angle, but in retrospect, it probably would have been better to put the big gear up. It was still an exciting ride as we surfed along under the Newport Bridge and past the finish line inside Newport Harbor.
It was a great day for all aboard and the race raised a lot of money for its two causes- the American Red Cross and the Wounded Warrior project.
After the race, Pat O'Connor and I delivered the boat up to New England Boatworks, where it was scheduled to be hauled on Tuesday. After enjoying the rest of the Columbus Day Weekend, we arrived back at the boatyard early Tuesday morning, and quickly pulled the rig apart to allow the mast to be lifted out of the boat. After the rig was safely on the ground the boat came out in the Travelift and was placed in her cradle, where she will reside for the next five months. It is always a sad day when the boat comes out of the water for the season, and the drive back home with my car filled with boat gear was a bit melancholy. However, work lists for next year will provide hours of entertainment, my real estate consulting practice will appreciate the end of sailing season and I can now spend even more time driving my kids to various soccer, hockey and lacrosse games!
Lastly, a couple of administrative notes: First, we are ramping up our social media presence, so for updates in between my blogs head over to Facebook and give the Gryphon Solo 2 page a like. Click Here to go to Facebook now and Like us!
Second, if you would like any further information about US Class 40, you can go to US Class 40 and have a look. There are a few good boats on the market at good prices and we need more good boats on the start line, so please let me know if you have any interest in joining the class.