Happy Birthday, Wife.

Some time ago, on this very day, you, Sara Heather, were born.  I remember it like it was yesterday--the summer had just begun, and I had a poopy diaper.  21 years (and few more poopy diapers) later, the magic that you brought into the world did what the Heavens designed it to do--it allowed me to find you.  You are, have always been, and forever will be, my beacon; my lighthouse in the dark.  

I love you, and thank you for supporting me with everything I do, especially this adventure.  Speaking of which, we've been kicking ass, so I decided to divert course for a bit and create for you a special ocean message!  Check out that boat speed!

See you soon.

Standing by...

It's June 17, 2016, at around 0800.  Today is supposed to be the start of the biennial Newport-Bermuda Race.  However, no later than 1100, the OA is scheduled to make a decision whether to delay the official start on account of some gnarly weather that is expected to hit the fleet while in the Gulf Stream.  Gnarly being sustained winds of 35 knots with puffs into the 40s, and potentially into the 50s and 60s in squalls.  A low is expected to park right over rhumb.  

More impactful than the breeze is the sea-state.  The expected TWD (true wind direction) for this breeze is E-NE, which means wind against current in the Stream.  The result is monstrous, steep, square, breaking waves--problematic yet doable for a heavy displacement boat; problematic and downright insane for a 2,500 lb. Mini Transat (to the say the least).  Yes, these boats are designed and built to cross oceans.  But even official Classe Mini events are delayed in big breeze--most notably the 2013 Mini Transat, when the OA delayed the race because of 50 knots and 4 meter waves off Cape Finisterre.  

We have no intention of putting our lives at risk by sailing into the Gulf Stream with the potential for 40-60 knots wind against current.  My 6-year-old daughter says to me yesterday, "Daddy...I hear some bad weather is coming.  Maybe you should just drive home."  I'm not ruling that out.  But right now, we are standing by.  Gear is offloaded from the Jeep and into the boat, food and water is organized and stowed, precious cargo has been loaded, and we have enjoyed Gosling's rum at Newport Shipyard in 100% approved, top choice swag designed by dear ol' dad.

The decision to stand-by is obvious.  Over the past few days, I have talked weather with sailors who, collectively, have hundreds of years of experience sailing offshore, and interpreting weather models--folks like Rob Windsor, Rich du Moulin, Clay Burkhalter, Chad Corning, and Lawrence Cutler.  Here are some choice quotes:

Lawrence:  "Josh.  With all due respect.  If you leave on Friday, you're a f***in' idiot."
Clay:  "Josh.  50 knots in the Gulf Stream will be...challenging.  Maybe head down there.  Dip your toe in, and bail out if need be."
Rob:  "I'd go...but I'm an idiot."  [Note:  Rob is not an idiot, but any stretch of the imagination.]
Rich:  [stares me down with an expression that I took to mean what Lawrence told me to my face].

The camaraderie up here in Newport, like the sunsets, is inspiring.  


Bainbridge & Karver Join the Team

As we begin our double-handed adventure from Newport, RI, to Bermuda one week from today in our 21-foot Mini Transat, Abilyn, we welcome Bainbridge International and Karver Systems to the team.  There's a lot of ocean to cover between here and Bermuda, and back to NYC.  When conditions get light and we need to make way upwind, we'll be deploying our 2016 UK Sailmakers Code Zero on a Karver KF1 ECO furler designed for boats like our Mini Transat.  The unit is small and light--I feel like I could lose it between the cushions of my couch.  But it does the job, furling the Code Zero with ease.

A photo posted by Josh (@abilynracing) on

A video posted by Josh (@abilynracing) on

This is no surprise given the innovations that Bainbridge and Karver have developed for the offshore sailing community.  Bainbridge was founded almost 100 years ago as a sailcloth manufacturer, and has had many successes, including in the Vendee Globe and the Whitbread / Volvo Ocean Race.  Over the years, Bainbridge expanded its presence in the offshore world by serving as distributor for many brands that typically equip offshore yachts, including Plastimo and Yale Cordage, and also by sponsoring The Atlantic Cup, which is the longest offshore race on the east coast of the U.S. 

Karver got its start in 2004 and has since been supplying technologically advanced sailing hardware to the IMOCA 60, Volvo, TP52, Mod 70, and Class 40 racing classes, among other designs.  In 2015, Karver selected Bainbridge as its exclusive distributor in the U.S.

We're excited to have the Karver ECO furler in our arsenal as we challenge what ultimately will be more than 1,300 miles of open ocean.