Editor’s Note: We’re starting a new feature on viper640.org where every few days, we hope to profile a different Viper sailor so that everyone can get to know that person a bit better.  Skippers, crews, young and old are welcome.

Harvey Barnes is between Vipers, but he’s still in the game.  Many of you have sailed against our friend from north of the border (or as Canadians call it, “home”), but even more of you have seen his slickly edited videos promoting the boat and the class.  Harv came down to Charleston Race Week in 2012 without a boat to make his latest series of videos (linked below), so we decided it was time to learn a little more about the man behind the camera…

barnes 87 nood

Harv at the helm of String Theory” at the Marblehead NOOD.

Harv (middle) outside his Vipermobile with Ron Schute (left) and Drew Harper (right). You’d look serious too if after a long roadtrip in this machine, you got out and someone started telling moose jokes

Name: Harvey Barnes

Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Viper currently (or past) owned — name(s) and sail number(s): Past Vipers were #87, #116, both named “String Theory”. Another Viper is in my near future.

Tell us a bit more about the origin of the name of your Viper: The name String Theory is from the scientific theory of the same name, which attempts to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. I figure if it can do this, perhaps it can help me figure out what strings to pull to make my boat go faster.

How long have you been racing Vipers: Since 2008.

Who introduced you to Viper sailing, and what drew you to the boat: I first caught wind of the Viper back in 1997 when it won Performance-Boat-of-the-Year and Overall-Boat-of-the-Year in Sailing World magazine. I almost bought one then. I still have the original brochures and price lists from 1997 and 2000. In 2007 I met Justin Scott, then President of the Class, at the St. Pete’s NOOD. He told me Vipers were being made again. I ordered one that year.

What other boats have you raced and when did you first start: I first started racing as a child… crewing for my dad and his buddies on Lake Ontario. As for boats… Albacores, 505s, Kirby 25s, J24s, Laser 28s, Ultimate 20s, and many more.

Who are your regular crew / favorite people to sail Vipers with: I’m between Vipers right now, so I don’t have a regular crew. My favorite people to sail with are those that know how to enjoy the moment. Fortunately, that’s most folks I sail with, especially on a Viper.
What do you do professionally: I own and operate a video production company.

What do you like most about Vipers: The people, and that the boat is fast, fun, simple, and affordable.

Least: [no comment]

What is your favorite sailing event and why: I would say Charleston Race Week is right up there. It’s challenging to sail there and it’s a wonderful city, steeped in history.

What would you tell a newcomer to the Viper class who wants to get up to speed quickly: Come and play! Get out to the regattas. Everyone is so helpful. You’ll likely learn more about the Viper by attending a few regattas than you would sailing a whole season by yourself.

Do you have a basic race philosophy: Prep the boat and the team so you can get your head out of the boat. Keep it simple. Have fun.

Any other sports or hobbies: Playing bass guitar, kayaking, and sailing a bar stool with my buddies.

What sails do you use: I use Doyle-Boston sails. They are fast and easy to dial in. Brad and the gang have invested a lot of time in the Class. They provide great service and are always helpful in getting you up to speed.

What will you do to not miss sailing this winter: Go sailing… where the water is still liquid.

Northern engineering: Harvey and his double trailer at the 2009 North Americans in the Indian Harbor YC parking lot

What are your Viper plans for 2013: I’ll do some N.E. regattas plus attend the growing number of Ontario regattas.

Tell us your favorite (website appropriate) Viper story: Which one do I pick? Here’s one…

We attended the 2008 Viper 640 Atlantic Coast Championship in Stamford, CT. We were doing very well and the top boats were either tied or within a point of each other going into the final day.

My team was very focused. Our heads were out of the boat and we were working very well together, despite flubbing a few races on the final day. We needed a good result in the last race to remain in the hunt.

We got off the line well, and remained sharp throughout the race. On the last leg, heading for the mid-beat finish-line, we found ourselves battling for a second place finish with one of our close rivals. It was one of those moments when you know that even the slightest loss of concentration will lose you a position in the race, and possibly in the regatta. It was that tight. Every ounce of my focus was on driving the boat. We didn’t want to flub this one.

We went for the pin-end. Our rivals went for the boat-end. Who was right? It was too close to call. With 30 yards to the finish, my front-crew blurts out something in a very excited voice. It didn’t register. Oh crap! Is there another boat that I didn’t see? “What was that?” I replied. She said it again, just as excited. It still didn’t register. I can’t see another boat. What was she saying? Before I could ask her to repeat it again, my middle crew intervened and said “Never mind! Drive!” The boat went quiet. Focus restored. We finished the race.

After a deep breath I asked “What were you saying?” See replied “Jellyfish… I saw a jellyfish.”

Ever since then, the word “jellyfish” as a special meaning on my boats. We decided that when ever irrelevant information is communicated at the most inappropriate time, it’s a “jellyfish”. When this happens, one just has to utter “jellyfish” and it will stop.

For those of you who may have forgotten how the 2008 Viper ACCs turned out, check out the archives.  In the meantime, we have a collection of Harvey’s greatest Viper video hits below.


Highlights from 2012 Charleston Race Week


Interview from 2012 Charleston Race Week with Joe Healey, Viper 121


Interview from 2012 Charleston Race Week with Robert Williams Viper 168 “Apache” and Class President Dawn Kozak, Viper 108 “Double D”.