by Joe Harris
Rolex Fastnet Race update from Gryphon Solo 2’s skipper Joe Harris:
Gryphon Solo 2, Race start - Rolex Fastnet Race 2011
I am sorry to report that we have elected to retire from the 2011 Rolex Fastnet due to sail damage that has rendered us uncompetitive. We ripped our Solent jib - our main workhorse headsail, as we exited the Solent near The Needles after the start. We were changing down to a smaller sail and roller furled the Solent jib in about 22 knots of wind and the sail flogged very badly and tore along the leech (trailing edge). It also tore horizontally along a batten pocket and the damage was fairly extensive. Although I immediately had a sinking feeling at the time that our race was over, we kept racing under the staysail, as we beat our way down the South Coast of England. It wasn't until we had rounded Portland Bill headland that the wind went light enough that we could unroll the jib for a look. We sent Tristan Mouligne up the mast in the bosun's chair on a spinnaker halyard and then unfurled the sail. The sail is lashed to a swivel on the mast and Tristan cut the lashing and the sail fell down the headstay to the deck. Josh, Tristan and I looked the sail over carefully and determined that the damage was too extensive to repair, so we would not be able to use it.
That left us with the smaller staysail and the larger Code Zero, neither of which are effective going to windward in 8-16 knots of wind, which is exactly what we had and were forecast to have more of.
So, reluctantly, we have turned around as we were approaching The Lizard headland and are heading to Dartmouth to pick up diesel fuel to allow us to return to Gosport. It is a big bummer to have to retire, but we were certainly no longer competitive and the timeframe it would take to finish the race was beyond what we had planned. GS2 is scheduled to be lifted aboard a ship and transported back to the USA next week, so that contributed to the decision.
I must say that I have never seen a collection of more amazing sailing vessels than was assembled at the start of this Fastnet. Open 60's, the new MOD 70 trimarans, the 110ft Bank Populaire record-setting trimaran, new Volvo 70's and the Maxis Rambler, Leopard, Beau Geste, Ran and others. All these boats sailed through us once we got out into the English Channel and it was an amazing display of hardware.
Our own 21 boat Class 40 division was quite impressive and we wish them all well as they continue on to Fastnet Rock. So, while this really sucks, we are not whining (much).
Rolex Fastnet Race website
Gryphon Solo 2 website