Mini Transat: In praise of diversity

Published on September 13th, 2015

One of the great charms and unique things about the biennial Mini Transat îles de Guadeloupe is the wide selection of solo sailors to race their 21-foot Mini Class boats across the Atlantic. Among the 72 entrants you find people who have travelled a long way from home to come and compete and others who have the race on their doorstep. There is also great range in terms of experience and age. The variety is what makes the race so special, one that embraces the diversity.

Career rounds
There are a number of participants who have ambitions to become professional sailors. This is the case of Julien Pulvé and Clément Bouyssou from France as is for Belgian entry Jonas Gerckens or say Patrick Girod from Switzerland. They all dream of making this their career and all hope to win the race and so be able to make a living from what they are passionate about.

For others, the Mini Transat îles de Guadeloupe is a break, time off from their usual activity. This is the case for Thomas Guichard who works in a large shop in Rennes for example, and who has decided to take an unpaid year off work to take part. There are also a number of entries that work year round in jobs that are related to the sea be it a rigger, engineer, sailing instructor…others are there for the adventure, the possibility of a different kind of experience. Carl Chipotel is a fire-fighter in Guadeloupe, Arnaud Machado a landscapist and Guillermo Cañardo from Spain is an accident and emergency doctor in Tarragona for example.

The other side of the world just next door
Some have come from very far. Katrina Ham moved from Australia to Lorient two years ago to prepare for her dream race the Mini. Xi Jingkum, a sailing instructor from Quingdao, has arrived accompanied by his wife and son. For others the start is on their doorstep; Olivier Taillard lives in Quimper for example. So over 16,000 km separates him from from Kristina Ham from the other side of the world.

From young to old
They could be their sons. The two youngest to compete, Quentin Vlamynich (22 years old) and Nicolas d’Estais (23 years old) are not going to be put off by the experience of say Carlos Lizancos (56 years old) or Hervé Aubry (54 years old). There are over 34 years of age difference between the youngest and the oldest competitor.

The virtue of experience
With the combination of those who regularly race on the Mini and all the new round sailors, there certainly are a lot of people. Davy Beaudart will be concluding his seventh season racing on the Raison design prototype. He is a race favourite and now will want to demonstrate how valuable his experience on the race will be. Mathieu Bordais will want to prove him wrong having only started racing on the Mini this year. With an Olympic background, he hopes to be one of the surprise rising talented sailors the Mini seems to bring up each year.

Prologue: Lets not ruin the party
Race Director, Denis Hugues, announced during the skipper briefing that the prologue Tout Commence en Finistère was to be cancelled. “Whilst conditions were not dreadful, the prologue is meant to be fun for all and the gusts and rain storms would mean this could turn into an unpleasant day for all on the water.” It was a wise decision and forecasts for the start are promising.

Race websiteRace program

mini transat

Background: For the 20th edition and for the second time, the Mini Transat – Îles de Guadeloupe returns to its origins with a start from Douarnenez (France). The Breton harbour will see the fleet of 72 solo sailors set off on September 19 to Lanzarote (Canary Islands), where the Mini 6.50 will complete stage one of the race. The second stage will start on October 31, taking the fleet across the Atlantic to finish some three weeks later in Pointe-à-Pitre (Guadeloupe). The 2,700 nautical mile race from France to the Caribbean is the longest solo race for the smallest of boats.

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