by Joe Harris
Rolex Fastnet Race recap from Gryphon Solo 2’s skipper Joe Harris:
Gryphon Solo 2, Race start - Rolex Fastnet Race 2011
As our race ended abruptly on the first day of an expected four day race, I thought it might be good to review what happened and how the race turned out for others. Thank you to everyone who expressed condolences and encouragement following our withdrawal from the Fastnet due to sail damage. It was a big let down and we have been in a bit of a somber mood over the last few days as we delivered the boat back to Southampton, cleaned her up and prepared her for shipping back to the states.
As the Fastnet race unfolded, The big news of course was the capsize of the 100' Rambler, the Juan K-designed beasty boat that lost their keel just after rounding Fastnet rock in the Irish sea and slowly turned completely upside down. Rambler and leopard sailed closely past us in the English Channel and their towering rigs and huge loads were both impressive and a bit scary. Once rambler capsized, with the mast and sails still intact, the boat was quite stable upside down while crewmembers scrambled out from below deck and climbed on to the hull bottom. The owner, George David, Chairman of United Technologies and his girlfriend evidently floated away from the boat and were in the water for more than two hours before being plucked from the sea. All 22 Rambler crewmembers were rescued and a salvage operation is underway to recover the boat and rig. Pretty scary.
Another big story was the record time of the 130' maxi Trimaran Banque Populaire, that finished the race in under 30 hours with an average speed of about 20 knots. Banque Populaire, is an amazing machine, preparing for an around the world record attempt led by Loick Peyron. My bet is they break the record by a fair margin.
In our Class 40 division, the finish was very close with Tanguay Delamotte aboard Initiatives taking line honors. four more Class 40's finished within seven minutes of Tanguay so it was really incredibly close racing over 600 miles. I would like to think that we could have finished with that top group, but I really have not spent enough time in the boat yet to get that kind of performance. The performance bar is high in Class 40, and getting better all the time. After the boat is shipped back to the USA in early September, my plan is to sail as much as possible before it gets too cold, with a particular focus on upwind performance and water ballast use and transfer. These areas need improvement for sure, while the downwind performance of the boat is clearly great. It will be nice to finally have the opportunity to properly work the boat up to racing form, as I have not been able to do that with the boat in France.
I am also on the hunt for a title sponsor and will reinvigorate those efforts with the boat coming to its home waters, providing the ability to take prospects out for a sail. Anyone wanting to come for a sail in Newport please let me know.
So, I look forward to keeping in touch and providing further progress updates in the campaign leading the 2013 Global Solo Race.
Rolex Fastnet Race website
Gryphon Solo 2 website