All three of the top U.S. Open Class racing boats were entered in last weekend’s annual Monhegan Island Race, the highlight ocean race of the Gulf of Maine Ocean Racing Association (GMORA). Although reputedly often a light air drift, this year the fleet was impressive, including several interesting multihulls (racing their own division) in addition to the Open Class. As far as I know, this could have been the first time there has been an all-American Open Class start in the U.S.
Ocean Planet-Open 60
Artforms-Kip Stone’s Open 50
and Gryphon Solo-Joe Harris’ Open 50
Some pics of the start in the Portland press herald:
Artforms and Gryphon Solo (formerly Brad Van Liew’s “Tommy Hilfiger”) are most likely the two fastest Open 50 class racing boats in the world. Although myself and Ocean Planet will most likely be staying in Maine this fall and winter, the two American 50’s are off to race the Open 50 division in this November’s Transat Jacque Vabre (http://www.jacques-vabre.com/). Best of luck, guys! I’ll be keeping an eye on the race, not only to root for the boys from Maine (Kip), and Massachussetts (Joe), but also to watch most of my Vendee Globe competitors go at it again. Sure, I’d love to be in the race, maybe next time…
For the Monhegan race, it was definitely a race of honor for Ocean Planet, to prove that our all-American built Open Class 60 would beat the top 50’s (Artforms and Gryphon Solo were built overseas). I knew that the rating handicap given the 50’s would be impossible to overcome (we owe the 50’s nearly a minute every mile) for corrected time, but we needed to beat them boat for boat at least.
This was crewed race, with about 5 crew on each 50, and a full boatload of 11 supporters on Ocean Planet. So we had a little extra weight! I’m happy to say that we took the start, but were disappointed when Kip turn his upwind position and initial reaching speed out the Hussey Sound to get on our breeze and trap us. The tables turned when we managed to shake Artforms and let our boat stretch her legs, retaking the lead. But the battle was far from over, as I made two mistakes, first by putting a reef in….then the wind lightened and we had to shake it out, and then by falling into a wind hole too close to shore near Cape Porpoise. This allowed both 50’s to get around the Cape Porpoise bouy just ahead of us, yikes! We raised our big spinnaker and began our chase, but something still seemed wrong….we felt a vibration and seemed a little off our usual downwind pace. After an hour or two we were nearly caught up with Artforms, but Gryphon Solo was showing great downwind speed and still ahead.
Now that we were farther offshore the water was more clear and we could finally see our keel bulb. Egads! We were dragging a big lobster bouy float and a line that went farther than we could see. No wonder we were not going as we should have been! Snuffing the spinnaker and luffing up didn’t shake off the offending junk, so our star crew for the day, Aaron, jumped in and cut the float and line away. After all this, and resetting the kite, it was time to catch up once again. OP was now back on form and we ground up to Artforms and reduced the distance to Gryphon Solo as night fell. After a few jibes on wind shifts we rounded the Monhegan Island bouy, surrounded by smaller boats that were racing the shorter course. In the crowd and darkness, we had no idea anymore were the 50’s went! The wind nearly died, started shifting constantly, and ominous lightning illuminated the clouds as we drifted by countless smaller boats.
Soon, there were no more running lights ahead of us. Were we in the lead? The wind came back we headed for the finish at 12.5 knots. Suddenly, a boat appeard to windward and blazed by us, just like we had blazed by the other boats…..what in the heck was THAT?! Much to our relief, what turned out to be a big trimaran radioed into the race committee as they approached the finish. Whew! We came in soon after, and then heard Artforms call in from behind us. Gryphon solo came in about 40 minutes later….I don’t what happened to them after dark but I’m not complaining…..;-) Ocean Planet was first to finish monohull and fastest elasped time in the Monhegan Race for the second year in a row.
Thanks to everyone on our crew (especially Aaron!), and best of luck to Kip and Joe as they head over to Europe for the TJV! For those of you who would like to sail or race on Americas fastest Open Class racing boat in future races or for a private day, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other news: Ocean Planet will be at the dock at Portland Yacht Services for viewing and onboard tours ($5 per adult, all kids free with an adult) this weekend, August 20 & 21, and next weekend, August 27 & 28. Note that the famous Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museeum (http://www.mngrr.org/) will be hosting “Thomas the Tank Engine” from Aug 19-21, and the 26-38. Come see the train and Ocean Planet in one trip! See you there.
Bruce Schwab, Skipper
USA 05/Ocean Planet