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Storm delays 23rd Mini Transat

Published on September 26th, 2021

Initially scheduled for September 26, the start of the 23rd edition of the Mini Transat has been pushed back 24 hours due to a front offshore of the Coast of Light, with the delay to improve the safety of the 90 competitors.

Held biennially for the Mini 6.50, the smallest offshore racing class at 21-feet, the 4,050 nm course is divided in two parts: Les Sables d’Olonne (France) to Santa Cruz de La Palma in the Canaries (Spain), restarting on October 29 for the second stage to Saint-François in Guadeloupe.

But with a highly active front forecast to roll in offshore of the Vendée coast on Sunday night through into Monday (Sept. 26-27), Race Director Denis Hugues didn’t want the difficult conditions on day one to preclude getting as many competitors as possible across the Atlantic.

“The latter will generate average wind speeds of 30-35 knots, gusting in excess of 40 knots, together with difficult, cross seas with fairly short intervals between the waves,” said Hugues. “Immersing the racers in such conditions on their first night clearly didn’t seem like a reasonable proposal.”

A notable proving ground for sailors with shorthanded aspirations, it is also test platform for new boat types, with 65 competitors entering in the production division for manufactured boats while the prototype division has 25 entrants with custom designs.

As the lone American in the mostly European fleet, Jay Thompson (above) is realizing a dream by taking the start of the 2021 Mini Transat.

Since 2006, has been criss-crossing the waters of the globe by boat with his family and the Californian is currently on a ‘stopover’ in France. He started his racing career on a Laser, before securing a solid 7th place in the 2014 F16 World Championship, then participating in some major crewed races on demanding boats like the Marström 32 or the TP52.

“For a very long time, I’ve dreamed of racing singlehanded in Europe,” explains the skipper who, since his arrival in Brittany, has not only managed to get in some regular sailing in Figaro, Class40, and IMOCA, but has also made a name for himself as one of the most sought-after shore crew.

Thompson will be racing a highly innovative foiling Guillaume Verdier design which he built himself. “In my view, the Mini Transat, and more precisely the prototype class, is an experimentation platform. The boat has proven that she’s quick in the conditions synonymous with a transatlantic passage, so fingers crossed.”

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