Pit stop at the Cape Verde Islands

Published on November 5th, 2023

Since Peter Gibbons-Neff (USA) broke his rudder on the second leg of the 2023 Mini Transat, he has arrived at the Cape Verde Islands to make repairs. The rules permit repair stops, with the minimum time to be 12 hours but cannot be longer than 72 hours per leg. Here is summary of the breakdown:

“I was cruising along averaging 11-13 knots and seeing boat speeds of 16 knots. I had a reef in the A3 spinnaker, two reefs in the main, and was flying downwind; it was incredible. I was hand driving the boat to make sure the boat wouldn’t wipe out when suddenly I lost all steerage.

“I looked back and saw the entire port rudder being dragged by the boat, held to the boat by the rudder bar that is connected to the tiller. It all happened so quickly and I don’t know if I hit something or if the force of the speeds on the rudder, but all eight bolts holding the two rudder gudgeons onto the boat sheared off completely.

“Thankfully, I was able to recover the rudder, fully intact with minor damage to it. The gudgeons were still attached to the rudder. With the gudgeons sheared off, the studs were still in the hull and no water came in the boat. I was lucky that the force of the rudder gudgeons shearing off didn’t rip a hole in the transom. So I have everything but new bolts to make the repair quick and pretty easy.”

He arrived early on November 4 to Mindelo, Sao Vincente and was able to complete repairs and depart the following day. Gibbons-Neff is the lone North American among the 87 remaining competitors in the 24th edition of the race. The fleet started this second leg of the race on October 28, racing their 21-foot Mini Class boats on the 2700 nm course from Santa Cruz de La Palma to Saint-François, Guadeloupe.

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After a one day postponement due to storms, the 24th edition of the Mini Transat, reserved for the Mini 6.50, the smallest offshore racing class at 21-feet, saw the first stage get underway on September 25, 2023.

Ninety solo sailors entered the 2023 Mini Transat with the competitors placed in divisions for prototype and production boats.

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

Held biennially, with limited participation for safety that includes strict qualification guidelines, the 4,050 nm course is divided in two parts with the combined elapsed time to determine the results:

September 25: Les Sables d’Olonne (France) to Santa Cruz de La Palma in the Canaries (Spain) – 1350 nm
October 28: Santa Cruz de La Palma in the Canaries (Spain) to Saint-François in Guadeloupe – 2700 nm

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