Conversations with Classic Boats

Published on January 1st, 2023

Conversations with Classic Boats is a podcast about classic boat designs and the stories behind them. Hosted by Tom Darling, this episode comes from the Mystic Seaport Museums exhibit, “Story Boats, the Tales They Tell”.

The exhibit presented the offshore craft of three daring solo sailors, among them Clay Burkhalter of Stonington, CT who enlisted his uncle, Rod Johnstone, founder of JBoats, to design him a sophisticated Mini-Transat boat. The result was Acadia, 21 feet long and 10 feet wide, which Burkhalter raced in the 2007 Transat race along with 80 others starting in France and finishing in Brazil via the island of Madeira.

Burkhalter tells the story of his qualification sailing outings in the United States, North Carolina to the Bahamas and back, and his commissioning of the Mini-Transat /JBoat in France. He ultimately placed 13 out of 80 plus starters in the race to Brazil.

Travel along with him as he pulls 40 hour shifts hand steering Acadia, struggles with huge spinnakers, sleeping on sail bags with the autopilot on and living on energy bars.

The Transat, long dominated by French designer-sailors, does not get the attention given to the big events like the Vendee Globe. But on a personal level, the everyday sailor has much more in common with the experience of Clay Burkhalter and his Acadia.

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