Gryphonsolo dominates doublehanded division

The latest from the Newport-Bermuda race

Monday June 18th 2012, Author: John Rousmaniere, Location: Bermuda

Early Monday morning, Joe Harris and co-skipper Tristan Mouligne celebrated the completion of their victory in the Double-handed Division of the Newport-Bermuda race aboard the former's Akilaria RC2 Class 40, Gryphonsolo2, by a massive margin.

Gryphonsolo2 finished off St. David’s Lighthouse, Bermuda, at 04:40:26 local time on Monday morning with an elapsed time of 60 hours 20 minutes and 26 seconds. By 1900 in the afternoon Monday, only two other double-handers had finished.

“We never eased up,” Harris confirmed. “I hold the single-handed record in the Bermuda 1-2 Race from Newport to Bermuda at 62 hours and 37 minutes, but sailed that in the 50ft Gryphon Solo. We beat that time today by more than two hours in a 10-foot shorter 40 footer. We never slowed down. We blew out two spinnakers, but kept on going. Totally soaked and stoked...

“The boat was just awesome, and as much as we pushed her is as much as she responded with incredibly sustained planing at high speed. We are not sure where we are in the fleet, but we understand we are quite far ahead of our fellow Class 40s and the remainder of the doublehanded fleet. It just remains to be seen where we come out on corrected time. We probably owe everyone a ton of time. Mother Nature gave us a gift in strong northeast winds nearly the entire way... a true anomaly at this time of year... and we were able to take advantage.”

On board Gracie, a solid 69-foot McCurdy and Rhodes sloop, father and son Steve and Simon Frank and a family crew, barely got wet. Gracie still stands a provisional first in Class 7 with an elapsed time of 63:59:33 and a corrected time of 47:55:41.

“At about 1000 on Friday night [the first night of the race] we were sailing under a 3A spinnaker when it blew to pieces,” Steven Frank said. “We went to a doubleheaded rig with our new high-clewed reacher on the outside and sailed very fast for 39 hours on port tack.

“We hoisted a 2A spinnaker about 40 miles out as the wind got a little lighter. We were headed directly for North Rock Beacon, Bermuda. Near the finish we hoisted our #3 jib to head up to the finish. It was a fantastic race. We’ve won our class two times in a row and we’ll be back in 2014.”

Llwyd Ecclestone’s Kodiak, the Reichel/Pugh 66 formerly known as Blue Yankee, still holds on to the lead in Class 8, and is the current front-runner for the St. David’s Lighthouse for first in the amateur division on corrected time.

“We don’t know whether that will hold. Where is Sinn Fein?” Ecclestone quipped. "Sinn Fein is a Cal 40 in Class 1 that has twice won the St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy and is still on the course.

“In this race the wind never let up. We were all out and it was difficult to eat, sleep or do anything else down below. One member of the crew just ate nuts and I had a hot dog on the last before we finished. Our lowest speed for a short time was 10 knots and the most I saw was 22 knots. We were fast because the crew was right on top of everything. We stopped once, hitting a shark that then wrapped around our rudder until it broke apart."

Kodiak had an elapsed time of 46:53:12 with a corrected time of 46:53:12. Her lighthouse lead will still face a challenge as only three boats in Class 6 and one boat in Class 5 had finished as of 5:00PM. No boats in classes 1-4 had finished at that time either.

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