Mini Transat: Diane Reid reports from Puerto Calero

Published on November 24th, 2013

The biennial Mini Transat is a transatlantic race for solo Mini 6.5m competitors, and there’s very thin history of these competitors being from North America. The 2013 edition had two – Jeffrey MacFarlane (USA) and Diane Reid (CAN). But now the race has none.

Jeffrey dismasted before the start, and it was reported on Nov. 21 that Diane had also dismasted. Not so, as Diane explains on Nov. 24th…

I’m in Puerto Calero (Canary Islands) and tied up to the dock. In short, I have broken another spreader bracket and I am still having trouble with power on the boat. I can live without power on the boat as long as there is sunshine during the days to give me enough to get through the night.

However, I spoke with our race director through email and he has confirmed that I have run out of time under the rules of “technical stopover” to be able to carry on with the race. He also raised the issue of safety as an additional concern.

Even if I had the time to do the repairs, I would be three days behind the closest support boat and a day behind the closest competitor who left this port this morning. There is a high pressure system floating over us right now, but there is a weather bomb of a low that will drop in and when it hits I would be far far out of range of conventional safety and rescue measures if something again went wrong.

As the Mini Classe rules don’t allow for communication, the race organizers need to take this into account when making decisions. So for adhering to the “technical stopover” race rules of 72 hours and for additional safety concerns, my Mini Transat race has finished here in Puerto Calero, Lanzarote

As to the rig damage, (after passing through the safety gate at the Canary Islands) I couldn’t tack and I couldn’t turn the boat around without risking losing the rig. The broken spreader bracket was the top one on the port side. The only reason the mast stayed up was because I was able to straighten the mast and pull the checkstays on, causing the mast to compress the broken fitting which still had some rivets holding. But this meant that with both checkstays on I couldn’t hoist the main.

(Turning back the Canary Islands), I was extremely lucky that there wasn’t any bad weather and that the wind blew from the north west to literally blow me into port. I sailed the 300 miles under jib alone and just barely made it to Puerto Calero. I was told there would be someone here to tow me in. But because I got in so late, everyone had gone home and there was just a security guard here. Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre Las Palmas (MRCC) actually asked me if I could just wait until this morning when everything opened up. Eventually MRCC sent the rescue launch to tow me in the two miles to shore.

I now need to figure out how to get the boat back to Canada. It’s probably going to cost about $10,000….a cost I wasn’t planning on having to incur as I was meant to be sailing to Miami to bring the boat home. If anyone has any connections or resources to move a mini in an overheight container from the Canary Islands to Canada or the United States, I would be happy to entertain!

Diane’s Facebook pageDiane’s website

Background: The biennial Mini Transat is a transatlantic race for solo Mini 6.5m competitors. The race has two legs: 1257 miles from France to Canary Islands, and 2764 miles from Canary Islands to Guadeloupe. Demand is high to compete. The race is limited to 84 racers, and each entrant must fulfill qualifying requirements. The race has a production division and a prototype division.

The start from Douarnenez was originally planned for October 13, but was postponed due to severe weather conditions on the race course. A weather window allowed for the start of the first leg of the Mini Transat 2013 on October 29, but worsening weather conditions forced the cancellation of this leg and the Mini Transat fleet found shelter in the ports on the north coast of Spain.

Seventy-three competitors restarted in Sada, Spain on November 13, with the race reduced to one 3700 mile leg direct to Pointe-à-Pitre, with a gate at the Canary Islands for safety.

Race website: http://www.minitransat.fr/

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