Mini Transat – American Jeffrey MacFarlane racing the clock

Published on November 6th, 2013

(November 6, 2013) – The 2013 Mini Transat has had a rough start. This biennial transatlantic race for solo Mini 6.5m competitors was originally to start in Douarnenez, France on October 13, 2013, but departure was postponed to October 29 due to severe weather conditions on the race course.

The race schedule was to have two legs: 1257 miles from France to Canary Islands, and 2764 miles from Canary Islands to Guadeloupe. As always, demand was high to compete, with a waiting list well beyond the maximum cap of 84 racers.

But the fleet was warned before the start that if the weather forecast deteriorated, they would be diverted to Sada, near La Coruna at the north west tip of Spain. And this is what happened, except the fleet got so scattered as they crossed the Bay of Biscay, this shortened leg was abandoned so as to allow competitors to reach the closest port safely.

There were some early casualties, among them one of the race favorites, American Jeffrey MacFarlane. After losing his mast on October 31, race management forced him to abandon the boat and board the safety vessel. Since returning to shore, MacFarlane was been tirelessly working to retrieve his boat and continue in the race.

“I am still trying to do everything I can to continue,” MacFarlane reports. “I am sourcing a few second hand masts, as it’s not possible to have a new one built in this short of time. French sailmaker All Purpose is on standby to make me new sails. The main problem is that the boat is still 120nm from Spain and 140nm from the French coast. The issue now is getting a salvage company, or really anyone with a motor boat, to help me retrieve the boat. It seems no one wants to travel more then 50/60 miles from the coast. The weather lately is not helping either. I am hoping for more positive news over the next couple of days. It has been, and will continue to be, a hard pressed effort, that is for sure.”

The latest plan for the race is to start on November 12, and to have a single leg from Sada, Spain to Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe. The fleet will race through a gate near Lanzarote (Canary Islands) that will establish an intermediate classification before crossing the Atlantic. In addition, competitors will be allowed to make an express stop at Puerto Calero if they wish to make repairs before undertaking the crossing.

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