Mini Transat: Small Boat, Big Challenge
Published on July 8th, 2019
It’s an odd number year which means there is an international field forming to race the Mini 6.50 Class across the Atlantic Ocean. This powered-up 21-footer is the start-up for singlehanded sailors with big ambitions or for the adventurer who needs fulfillment.
With a limit of 84 entries, and pre-race requirements to separate the wheat from the chaff (or the competent from the crazy), the field is forming to take on the Mini-Transat La Boulangère, a 4050 nautical mile solo crossing on the smallest of offshore racing boats.
With 101 candidates, thus far 69 women and men have officially registered for the 22nd edition. There are two divisions to fulfill dreams – the production boat class to allow for easier entry and the prototype class for those seeking to push the design envelope.
While singlehanded offshore racing is a French specialty, the international dynamic is synonymous with the history of the Mini-Transat, a race in which some 35 countries and 5 continents have been represented since the 1st edition in 1977.
Among the competing international sailors, Italian Ambrogio Beccaria will be one of the skippers to beat in the production category. With his Pogo 3, Ambrogio has put in the training hours and has resulted in strong performances. However, not everyone needs the podium for gratification.
“The Mini-Transat is a dream; it’s always been part of my make-up,” says Swiss sailor Andréa Pawlotzki. “It can’t be explained, quite simply it’s the natural expression of a strong passion. Through my participation, I’m essentially expecting to get to the other side of the Atlantic, having as much fun as possible along the way. After that, if I manage to leave a few boats in my wake, that’ll be even better!”
The first leg begins September 22 from La Rochelle, France and extends 1350 nm to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. After an often complicated exit of the Bay of Biscay, sailors will expect some long slips down the Portuguese coast before arriving after 7 to 10 days in the Canary archipelago.
The second leg will start November 1 from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and will take from 15 to 20 sailing days to complete the 2700 nm course and reach Le Marin in Martinique, French West Indies. Due to the numerous islands, the restart from the Canary can be tricky before reaching the famous trade winds that offer a long downwind run.