Coming off a recently torn Achilles tendon, Joe Harris will team up with Class 40 newcomer, Patrick O’Connor in 2014. Pat is not new to the Atlantic Cup however, having raced in two of the Inshore Series; with Gryphon Solo 2 in 2013 and Icarus in 2012. Joe was asked about his comment last year that it takes “true grit” to separate yourself in a race like the Atlantic Cup. Harris commented, “So I’m out to prove that’s true, it’s going to take more than a torn Achilles tendon to sideline me. No doubt, we’re a team to watch.”
What is your 2014 race schedule? Atlantic Cup, Bermuda Race, Global Ocean Race
Who’s your co-skipper and why have you chosen him or her? Pat O’Connor- he’s a good guy, a good sailor and handy on the boat
Did you learn anything from last year’s race that will change your execution in this year’s race? Don’t go outside block island!
What do you see as the biggest challenge for this year’s Atlantic Cup? I think our biggest challenge is to make as few mistakes as possible. If we can sail smart and avoid any major mistakes either in routing or sail-handling, I think we stand a good chance of earning a podium spot.
Who do you see as your toughest competition? As I look at the list of boats and competitors, First Light is the ex-Cutlass, which won the first Atlantic Cup and is back on the water after being on the sidelines for a while. Flatline is Kyle Hubley’s major restoration project, so I hope he can get the boat finished and sailing in time- Go Kyle! Icarus was certainly fast last year so she will be interesting to watch under a different skipper. Toothface is the newest boat and we know the Akilaria RC3 is fast, so they should be tough if they can get some time in the boat. Dragon has gone through a major refit with a new articulating sprit, sails and more so they will be competitive. Ed and Chad on Pleiad should be more familiar with the boat this year and should have her going fast. So on balance, I think every boat has a chance to be in the top 3, so it will come down to who makes the best tactical choices and fewest mistakes on the offshore legs and who is sharpest around the cans for the inshore series.
Have you made any new improvements to your boat? No- just basic maintenance
What’s your first major tactical decision after the start in Charleston? How far to go in the gulf stream In New York? Inshore or offshore after rounding the turning mark in NJ
Will you play zone or man-to-man defense in this year’s race? I don’t play defense- I play offense
How do you decide to go around Block Island? Don’t ask me- I’m clearly not the expert!
Is it true that if you sleep on the offshore legs you’ll lose? No- if you don’t sleep you will lose
Because of the limited number of sails you’re allowed to carry how does sail preservation and damage figure in your strategy? You cant blow up sails- you have to take good care of them and get them down before they come down on their own!
Describe yourself in one word. Pleasant
Are you single, in a relationship or married? Single
How did you get into competitive sailing? I raced for the first time in 3rd grade for one of the local beer can races. I was hooked from there.
Describe sailing to you in one word. Life
In what way are you superstitious before a race? I’m not very superstitious. I basically just want to make sure the boat is ready, I haven’t forgotten anything, and I have matching socks.
Please list some of your sailing career highlights: First ever distance race was the Pacific Cup in 2008 that I did double-handed. Won Block Island Race Week in 2011. Won J24 North Americans in 2011.
What is one of your goals for your sailing career? I would love to do a Sydney- Hobart
How did you meet your co-skipper? I met Joe through the Atlantic Cup.
What are the strengths of your co-skipper? Joe is very motivated, and loves going sailing. He might be the only guy who gets on their Class 40 to get to Block Island rather than just hopping on a ferry. He also has a serious amount of miles under his belt, which is very respectable.
What are your sailing strengths? I am pretty analytical, and I tend to always be thinking about what’s going to happen next. I am good at staying motivated, and like to remain upbeat with a good attitude, which tends to be contagious.
What do you like most about being offshore? What do you like least? I love the sunrise watch. And being on deck alone when everything on the boat is working together, just sending it is a pretty amazing feeling. I’m really good at sleeping, so the lack thereof during a race is difficult for me.
What makes you and your co-skipper a good team? In the year or so that Joe and I have known each other, we’ve gotten to be pretty close friends, and I think that’s super important. We’ve spent enough time on the boat together kind of be able to feed off each other and trust the other guy on the boat.
What do you see is your biggest challenge in this race? This race always attracts pretty high caliber sailors, and with relatively short legs, you have to be 100% all the time. It’s the teams that are able to stay at full blast longer that will be successful.
How do you rate your chances in the Atlantic Cup? Who do you think is the favorite? I predict very tight racing, and I think it will come down to the wire.
What is your favorite sports team? Buffalo Sabres
What is your favorite type of music? I listen to everything
What is the most played song on your I-pod? Weezer- El Scorcho
What’s your favorite thing to eat when you’re offshore? Least favorite? I snack a lot offshore, the bag of candy is usually pretty low when we get in. Some of the freeze dried flavors are pretty gross.
What is your favorite movie line? This is not ‘nam Walter, there are rules.
What do you do to relax during your free time? Hang out with friends, try to do outdoor things.
Do you have any hidden talents? I play guitar, actually almost went to school for music. I’m pretty boring other than that.
#115 Mare wins First Leg, Charleston, SC to New York Harbor, of The Atlantic Cup presented by 11th Hour Racing Fleet to dock in NY Harbor until Pro-Am on May 18, followed by Final Leg to Newport, RI on May 19 and In-shore Series, May 26-27 CHARLESTON, S.C. – With an unprecedented international fleet of[.....]