Please select your home edition
Edition
Auckland On Water Boat Show

Global Solo Race 2012-13 Racing solo for America

by Tim Zimmerman on 29 Jun 2011
Joe Harris, GryphonSolo2 - Global Solo Race 2013-14 Gryphon Solo / © http://www.gryphonsolo.com
Perhaps the biggest failure of American sailing over the past decades is the lack of presence and impact at the highest ends of global shorthanded sailing. It wasn't even until 2004-2005 that an American, Bruce Schwab, managed to finish the Vendee Globe. But for Americans, the podium has been (much) harder to scale than Mount Everest. Ditto the transatlantic races, and just about any elite shorthanded event. Lack of sponsorship interest in the US has no doubt been the biggest problem when it comes to the lack of Americans, and lack of success. But for any American who loves shorthanded ocean racing, the best strategy has been to learn French or root for the Brits.


Brad van Liew deserves enormous credit and respect for flying the flag over the past few years, and for being the one American to get to the top of the podium in a major solo global race, albeit the increasingly lame BOC/Around Alone/Velux 5 Oceans, and soon to be Purina Cat Chow Global Cruise (kidding, but it feels like it's headed that way). And respect to Mike Plant and the other Americans who have sailed well in the BOC/Around Alone, and to Ryan Breymaier for coming fifth in the Barcelona World Race (and for sailing it non-stop).

But I still lust for more Americans to a) enter a serious solo race; b) compete well; and c) kick some European ass. And so I welcome the return of Joe Harris, with his Gryphon Solo campaign, to the shorthanded racing scene. I first met Harris almost a decade ago, when he was learning to (not) sleep with the help of solo sailing sleep guru Claudio Stampi. So I followed his Gryphon Solo campaign (in van Liew's former Open 50), with interest. And he sailed to a second in the Transat and a first in class in the Jacques Vabre. So he was off to a promising start. But then the Open 50 class withered, Harris had a third child, and, well, you know. But after a couple of years thinking about how to get back into it, Harris built an Akilaria RC2 Class 40 and he is now campaigning it with the aim of competing in the Class 40-based Global Solo race, 2013-2014. Watch the video interview with Joe Harris here.

Harris is not a professional sailor (he is in real estate). But he has professional-grade ambitions and wants to put up the results required to elevate him to the top ranks of American solo ocean racers. The Class 40, which is very hot right now, is an interesting choice. Simpler, and less powerful than his former Open 50, it has two major benefits: it costs less, and you will usually find a full start line. There is no doubt Harris misses the Open 50s mind-bending power and its canting keel. 'There's just nothing quite like that push-button control and watching that big old bulb move to windward and the boat picking up 2 knots,' he says. But he is determined to master the art of making a Class 40 (with its fixed keel and four water ballast tanks) go fast.

His first chance to do that was in the recent Normandy Channel Race (he sailed double-handed with Global Ocean Race honcho--and former Vendee competitor--Josh Hall. And by Harris' own admission it was a fairly bracing wake-up regarding how little he knows about the art of sailing his Class 40. Upwind in breeze and waves, in particular, was a challenge, with the boat either on its ear or stalling. 'It will take a bit of time to get used to it, and clearly there is a bit of a learning curve here,' he admits. But he got a kick out of the downwind speed of the flat-bottomed design. 'The boat is very quick to plane and feels a lot like a surfboard or Laser,' he says. 'We had lots of fun riding waves, and the boat stay on a plane for a very long time.'

Harris is smart to take his time working the boat up to the 2012-2013 Global Solo Race. It will be solo, start in Europe, and stop only in Cape Town and Punta Del Este. That means that durability, and knowledge of the boat and its systems, will be key. Race Director Josh Hall is launching this new shorthanded brand with a Global Ocean Race that sets off this Fall. It is doublehanded, has multiple stops, and is likely to find perhaps 15 Class 40s on the start line. If it succeeds, and the Global Solo Race is a good follow-on, Hall could conceivably alternate the two races every two years. Harris is looking forward to it all. 'I grew up watching the Around Alone guys thinking it was pretty amazing. I feel like racing solo around the world is one of the ultimate challenges, and if you could pull it off it would be an amazing accomplishment and you could rest easy.'

Yep, it would be, and you can follow Harris' campaign to put an American stamp on the global shorthanded circuit GryphonSolo2 website

Naiad/Oracle SupplierT Clewring One DesignInSunSport - NZ

Related Articles

Gladwell's Line - Does the America's Cup really need a Star Chamber?
The first meeting of the three-man America's Cup Arbitration Panel is believed to have taken place in London The first meeting of the three-man America's Cup Arbitration Panel is believed to have taken place in London in the past week or so. Officially the date hasn't been publicly announced. The venue hasn't been publicly named, and the parties have appeared before a Panel that is publicly nameless.
Posted on 23 Jul
America's Cup - Glenn Ashby on Emirates Team NZ's road to Bermuda
Part 2 of the interview with Emirates Team NZ skipper Glenn Ashby. In this part of the interview we look at what is going to happen once Emirates Team NZ get their 'AC49.5' sailing in Auckland, and how the campaign may shape up before they leave for Bermuda. Ashby wouldn’t be drawn on whether Team New Zealand had started their AC50 build, with July being the usual start of what is usually a five-month build and commissioning period for an end of December launch.
Posted on 10 Jul
America's Cup - Glenn Ashby on Emirates Team NZ's new AC49.5
Sail-World talks with Emirates Team NZ skipper, Glenn Ashby on what is different about the team's new test boat Just under 11 months out from the 35th America’s Cup, Team New Zealand does not seem to be in its customary place at the front of the starting grid to be the first to launch their Challenger, or are they? Although they will be one of the last of the six teams to launch an AC45 Surrogate, Emirates Team New Zealand may have stolen a march with a boat that is as close as you can get to an AC50.
Posted on 9 Jul
Gladwell's Line - Emirates Team NZ launches shadow AC50
Emirates Team NZ took a late but significant step along the road to the 35th America's Cup, with the launch of their AC4 Emirates Team NZ took a late but significant step along the road to the 35th America's Cup, with the launch of their AC45S - as the test boats are called in the Protocol which governs the 2017 event. The bloated Protocol, which now runs to 83 pages of legalese, is restrictive on the size of boat that can be built as a test platform but doesn't restrict the number that can be built.
Posted on 22 Jun
Platino recovery - Family confirms that tug has made rendezvous
Reports in social media say a salvage tug has made a rendezvous with the Platino earlier than expected. Reports in social media by family and friends of Nick Saull, the crew member killed during a catastrophic incident abroad the 66ft yacht Platino say the salvage tug which left on Tuesday night has made the rendezvous earlier than expected. The Facebook report says the tug, Sea Pelican, arrived on Friday morning, the weather in the area has eased and with a more favorable outlook.
Posted on 16 Jun
Rio 2016 - Double Olympic medallist on the delights of Guanabara Bay
Olympic Gold and Bronze medallist Bruce Kendall updates on the 2016 Olympic venue at Guanabara Bay. Olympic Gold and Bronze medallist, and now a windsurfer coach, Bruce Kendall has made several trips to the 2016 Olympic venue at Guanabara Bay. He updates on the pollution issue which is clearly not going to be resolved in a couple of months, and also shares his views on the venue from a sailing competition perspective.
Posted on 14 Jun
America's Cup - Artemis win Chicago as Team Japan wins two races
Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series got three races away on Super Sunday. After losing the first official day of racing due to light winds and the non-arrival of the onshore breeze, Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series got three races away on Super Sunday. From a racing perspective this was probably the best day of racing yet in the series which counts for points in the Qualifying Series of the America's Cup in 11 months time.
Posted on 12 Jun
America's Cup - Emirates TNZ NZ and Oracle capsize in Chicago Practice
Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA capsized in Practice Racing at the Louis Vuitton ACWS Chicago There was action aplenty on Practice Day at Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Chicago, after Emirates Team New Zealand capsized in their match with Oracle Team USA, and then Oracle Team USA capsized later in the day. Team NZ's skipper skipper Glenn Ashby performed some impressive acrobatics ejecting from the AC45 capsize, without injury.
Posted on 11 Jun
America's Cup - Changes proposed to control future Cup options
Changes are being mooted to put the America's Cup on a longer-term footing according to the Daily Telegraph (UK) News that changes are being mooted to put the America's Cup on a longer-term footing is being floated in the Daily Telegraph (UK) by the British Challenger, Land Rover BAR. According to the Telegraph, some of the teams in the 2017 America's Cup are keen to lock-in parameters which would bind successive holders of the a style and frequency for the next America's Cup Match.
Posted on 8 Jun
America's Cup - AC50 construction uncovered - Part 2 - Wings and Costs
Second part of a two-part series looking at the AC50 construction progress at Core Builders Composites Second part of a two-part series looking at the construction progress at Core Builders Composites, and features of the AC50 class which will be used in the 35th America's Cup in Bermuda. Tim Smyth takes us on a tour of the CBC facility in Warkworth, and hour's drive north of Auckland. Where several AC50's, components and wingsails are under construction or have already been shipped to the teams.
Posted on 5 Jun