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GryphonSolo2 - The sequel

by Joe Harris on 24 May 2011
GryphonSolo2 - Normandy Channel Race 2011 Normandy Channel Race 2011 www.normandy-race.com
Joe Harris has just announced his campaign on Gryphonsolo2 for the Global Solo Race 2013-14. Joe is currently competing in the Normandy Channel Race 2011.

Joe Harris:

I Welcome you all to the GryphonSolo2 sequel. As Jack Nicholson said so beautifully in 'The Shining', 'I'm Baaaack!' (I hope that provided you with a good visual). When we last left out faithful captain, he had reluctantly sold his Open 50 GryphonSolo(1), due the 50' class going away and a third child arriving on the scene. Fast-forward two years and picture a state-of-the-art new boat and a new campaign.

With the birth of GryphonSolo2 - born out of strife in Tunisia (that which does not kill us makes us strong... and poor) by way of Trinite sur Mer - we now have a Generation 3 Class 40 offshore racing machine teed up and ready for action.

So, the intention of this email is to introduce the GS2 campaign to those of you new to the game and also those that followed the travails of the 2004 single-handed Transat race from Plymouth to Boston and the 2005 Transat Jacque Vabre race in which Josh Hall took class honors. A Bermuda 1-2 overall victory and course record in 2007 as well as a bunch of other fun races made up the 2004-2009 Gryphon Solo campaign that wrapped in July 2009 when I sold the boat to a movie producer to be in the movie 'Charlie St. Cloud'.

The Normandy Channel Race ('NCR') started yesterday and the second phase of the GryphonSolo campaign, I am writing to provide a race preview and encourage you to follow the race in the coming week. My good friend and project manager for the build of GS2, Josh Hall, will be joining me as co-skipper for the NCR, and we are both very excited to get out on the water and see what we and the boat can do.

This will certainly be a challenging race. The start is in Caen, France - the Normandy Caen, unfortunately not Cannes, like the film festival. The course will take us from the start off Caen, west to a turning mark off Ouest- Saint Marcouf, then north across the English Channel to the Isle of Wight, then down the south coast of England, around the Lizard and Lands End and northwest to Tuskar Rock, off the east coast of Ireland.

We then head down the coast of Ireland to the famed Fastnet Rock, and then back across the Celtic Sea, and across the Channel again and back to Caen, leaving the island of Guernsey to port. In all the race course is about 975 miles, but many more miles than that will be sailed through adverse wind and current conditions. The race is expected to take between five and seven days and will be a true test of seamanship for the boats and their skippers. Heavy shipping traffic and strong tides and currents will make this a true navigators' challenge.

There are 18 boats entered in the race from 10 different countries, making this one of the most international sailing events on the calendar. Of those boats, four are fresh out of the wrapper, between GS2, a Pogo S2 and two Kiwi 40's. It will be very interesting to see the first match-up of the new Generation 3 designs, and how their boatspeed compare to each other and the G1 and G2 designs. Class 40 is a tight box-rule for designers, but there are certainly subtle differences in each of the boats.

However, many of the older boats have very experienced crews that have spent many days in their boats at sea, so that experience and local knowledge for the French boats may prove more valuable than the latest design.

Our hope is simply to give it our very best effort and learn as quickly as we can how to sail the new boat to its design potential. With new boats there are often teething pains and we have certainly already had our share- but I fervently hope that we can make it around the race course without a significant mechanical failure.

First Skipper Log Entry:
Now pounding down the coast into SW breeze and big seas right on the kisser. May 23, 2011

All good here. Except very lumpy going dead to windward. Not a good first leg for us as we had the wrong sail combo and the boat was going slow vs competition. We should have made changes earlier but we were dealing with a number of issues like leaks etc. The fleet left us in the dust pretty quickly! However once we turned the corner at Isla Marcouf we had a fast passage across the English Channel flying a gennaker.

Hit 15 knots on a beam reach with 18 to 20k of wind. Cool passage through the solent around Isle of Wight- almost three knots of current with us- out into the channel past the needles (icon of British sailing). Now pounding down the coast into SW breeze and big seas right on the kisser. A frontal passage and winds up to 30k are forecasts so we are eating some hot food and trying to rest a bit as very little sleep so far. Hope I have Blackberry coverage for future messages as typing at the keyboard is impossible!

Expect daily communication from us during the race and we hope you will enjoy watching the race unfold on the Normandy Channel Race web site. You can also view the race tracker to keep tabs on positions of all boats GryphonSolo2 website
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