American Transat entry
“The Transat is the Granddaddy of all solo races,” said Harris. “I am thrilled to be an official entry and am looking forward to lining up against some of the top solo sailors in the world. I am training intensely for every aspect of the race.”
Harris has purchased the Open 50 race boat previously sailed by Brad Van Liew in the Around Alone race of 2002-3. Although the boat is now six years old, she is a proven thoroughbred, having excelled in two solo circumnavigations, and boasting a world speed record and a first-place finish on her resume. The boat was built of carbon fibre with a Nomex core in 1997 by JMV in France and designed by Groupe Finot.
44 years old, Harris is an accomplished businessman and experienced sailor who has set his sites on competing in several professional offshore races including the 5-Oceans, a solo race around the globe previously known as Around Alone and the BOC Challenge before that. Harris founded his Gryphon Solo campaign in 2003 with the assistance of a strong support team, including Whitbread veteran Brian Hancock, public relations professional Wendy Demuth, shore team manager Brian Harris, and solo sailor Brad Van Liew as an offshore sailing coach with Meaghan Van Liew as a sponsorship consultant.
In addition to preparing the boat, Harris has to prepare himself for the challenges of sleep deprivation, ongoing weather analyses, engine and electronics repair, navigation, and solitude.Preparation and planning are the keys to success for a solo sailor, and Joe Harris is no stranger to these traits. He is the Chief Financial Officer of New Boston Fund, a $1.5 billion real estate investment and development company. Says Harris, “in our business, we take calculated risks every day. The key is eliminating or mitigating as many risks as possible to maximize your chances of success.” Now, Harris will apply these principles to weather systems and navigation, rather than real estate and financial returns.
An accomplished sailor who has campaigned a series of boats along the Eastern Seaboard over the last 15 years, including entries in eight Newport-Bermuda Races and two Bermuda One-Two solo races, Harris is a relatively new player on the professional sailing scene. Nonetheless, he has attracted an impressive group of sponsors, including his own employer New Boston Fund. Other sponsors include Goulston & Storrs, Iridium, Raymarine, and AlpineAire. Representatives of these sponsors say that they have been attracted to the laser-like focus Harris and his team of professionals have exhibited in their preparation of the boat he has christened Gryphon Solo. And Harris is fully aware that in the end it will be just himself and the boat facing the extreme conditions of the North Atlantic in the early Spring.
“We believe in Joe as a businessman, a sailor and friend,” said Goulston & Storrs Partner Jordan Krasnow. “Many of us here at Goulston & Storrs have done business with Joe over the last 15 years - on both sides of the negotiating table - and have admired Joe’s ability to get difficult deals done with professionalism and a sense of humour.”