Transat competitor Joe Harris has sailed since the age of four, yet he has never crossed the Atlantic alone
Transat competitor Joe Harris has sailed since the age of four, yet he has never crossed the Atlantic alone. On Monday, May 31, Harris will be taking a large step forward in his life aboard Wells Fargo-American Pioneer, to accomplish a dream of sailing solo around the globe.
The Transat race is Harris’ first hurdle in a marathon goal to compete in the next 5-Oceans event, a gruelling solo sprint around the world in 2006-7. He will be cutting his teeth in an elite arena of the world’s best solo sailors, with 37 pros on a course that spans the chilly North Atlantic, a region known for brutal winds often exceeding 50 knots and littered with icebergs. The Transat starts at 1400 local time on Monday, May 31 in Plymouth, England and ends 3,000 miles to the south-west in Boston, Massachusetts – Harris’ home town.
Talking about the reasons why he’s decided to embark on the Transat Harris said: “This is no impulse voyage. More than four years ago, I saw the opportunity to begin my planning and prep for The Transat. I purchased an Aerodyne 38 and started using her as a trial horse with dozens of solo and short-handed sails. I then pre-purchased Brad Van Liew’s winning Open-50 race boat as he finished the Around Alone and recruited Brad for some offshore training, his wife for sponsorship and PR, and a top notch shore support team for the boat. I also began training with Dr Claudio Stampi on sleep deprivation and Ken Campbell at Commander’s Weather on weather analysis. In my mind I am taking a calculated risk with all the best training and preparation that one can attain in this unpredictable and risky sport.”
Harris’ realistic view and impeccable planning are no surprise coming from a real estate financier, Brown University grad, MBA and Chief Financial Officer. He has spent 13 years honing his skills in the boardroom negotiating multi-million dollar real estate deals. Now he will face a new test of survival skills at sea, alone. As a solo sailor Harris will have to fulfill the role of helmsman, navigator, communicator, sail trimmer, electrician, cook, repairman, and weather analyst.
The lifestyle onboard is extremely challenging. Harris will sleep in mini-naps of 20 minutes and dine on AlpineAire dehydrated food. He will download satellite weather imagery using Iridium services with Telenor equipment, and analyze his performance using Raymarine instruments and software. The racecourse is sure to bring challenges that Harris has never faced before, but he has his eyes wide open to the battle ahead.
He continued: “No job is too small and no job is too big. People have said that getting to the start line of a major solo race is the hardest part, and I now understand their remarks. I’ll be able to tell you in a couple weeks if the statement is true.”