by Joe Harris
The Newport Bermuda Race 2012, organized by volunteer members of the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda YC, is currently underway. Joe Harris onboard GryphonSolo2 reports on the second day of racing.
It has been a busy 18 hours since my last message. We have been cranking down the race course at top speed with a strong northeasterly wind behind us.
We are now about halfway through the Gulf Stream with wind speed in the mid 20's and boat speeds in the mid-teens and touching a high of 22 knots! We have been pushing hard and the boat has been responding well, as these are perfect GS2 power reaching conditions. Water is everywhere and it is impossible to stay dry. Everything was going very well until we pushed the envelope a little too far and got in trouble. We were in winds of 20 to 30 knots but still had our A6 fractional spinnaker up and were making unbelievable seds. We were sitting on 18 knots and surging up into the 20's in big surfs.
However, one puff was too strong and the boat rounded up and then accidentally gybed, leaving us with full water ballast on the wrong side and a complete mess. The A6 spinnaker that was up thrashed on the rig into a big tear and the A2 spinnaker which was in its bag lashed on deck filled with water and went overboard. We watched helplessly as it floated astern. Not good. We then had to carefully release the running backstay to allow the mainsail to come through and get the new runner on so we didn't lose the rig. The boat was at a crazy heel angle as we wallowed around trying to get things straightened out. We then had to get the torn spinnaker down using the sock, which proved to be quite a chore in 30 knots of wind.
We finally got the boat sorted and back on proper course, but were both completely soaked and exhausted, so we took turns going below to get dry clothes and some water. We are now licking our wounds and wishing we had not been so aggressive. We should have taken the spinnaker down when the wind speed reached 25 knots, but we got greedy for speed. Expensive mistake. We have another 400 miles to go down two spinnakers, but hopefully we won't need them. We are still hauling ass - boat speeds averaging 15 knots with main and solent- so hopefully our little fiasco won't stop us from a good showing. We seem to be passing larger boats regularly, so that has to be a good sign.
I hope you are all watching the action on the race tracker and that you are having a lovely Saturday on dry land.
Newport Bermuda Race website