At 03:21:25 GMT (23:21:25 local time), Joe Harris and Open 50 Wells Fargo – American Pioneer crossed The Transat 2004 finish line off Boston Harbour to take second place in the 50ft monohull class. Harris completed the gruelling 2,800 miles transatlantic course in 16 days 2 hours 21 minutes 25 seconds at an average speed of 7.25 knots having raced the final hours in darkness at speeds of 16+ knots through the busy, coastal shipping lanes. After crossing the line, the clearly exhausted but overjoyed skipper commented: “This has been an incredible race.” Reflecting on the tough conditions he encountered in the North Atlantic Harris added; “It feels really wonderful to have stretched my limits as an individual, exploring the vast extremes that solo ocean racing inherently presents.”
The early stages of The Transat 2004 saw Harris and 50ft monohull class winner, Kip Stone (Artforms), locked in a close battle, constantly trading first place as they stretched out ahead of the two trailing Open 50s; Okami (Jacques Bouchacourt) and Branec III (Roger Langevin). This All-American match race came to an end on Day 10 of the race; Harris takes up the story: “The weather models I was analyzing for the southern tip of the Grand Banks showed a chance to capture some nice northerly wind. I headed south, but when I arrived, the northerlies were nowhere to be seen. I was left wallowing in the mind-numbing stillness of the Atlantic as Artforms and Okami flew towards Boston. I need to keep reminding myself of the simple goal I established as a first-timer to this race – to finish.”
Dogged by light airs and unable to threaten the lead developed by Artforms, Harris successfully caught and overtook Okami as her French skipper sailed down towards Boston along the coast of Nova Scotia and – by Day 15 – had built a 100 miles lead over Bouchacourt as the pair entered the Gulf of Maine. The American skipper then built and maintained this lead until the finish line. With The Transat 2004 behind him, plans are in place for further shorthanded, ocean racing with his sights firmly set on the mammoth 28,000 miles, single-handed, circumnavigating 5 Oceans Race in 2006-2007.
Born and raised in Greenwich, CT, Joe Harris grew up sailing on Long Island Sound. He was mentored by his father- an offshore racer with 18 Newport-Bermuda Races to his credit – and his grandfather, a veteran of five Trans-Atlantic voyages. After graduating from Brown University in 1981, Joe spent his summers working as a commercial fisherman in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and his winters as a boat-builder in New England. In his thirties, Joe received an MBA from Babson College and embarked on a career in real estate finance. He advanced rapidly to his current position as CFO of New Boston Fund, Inc. a $1.5 billion real estate investment and development company. Joe has owned and campaigned a series of boats over the last 15 years, competing in every major East Coast regatta and offshore race, including eight Newport-Bermuda, three Marblehead-Halifax and two Bermuda One/Two races. He also completed a Trans-Atlantic passage from Europe to the Caribbean to New England, as well as numerous deliveries and charters totalling over 25,000 offshore miles.
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