Braveheart or Madman? I am very likely not the only one who gets odd looks when talking about the Mini Transat. Depending on whom you are talking to, reactions vary from verbal shoulder padding to secretly calling a mental home.
The boat is 6,50 metres long, the Atlantic a lot larger; waves are (not only) sometimes higher than the boat is long; in addition to that, the singlehanded sailors are short of sleep for the entire race.
If one person did that once – ok, it would be a challenge and an adventure. But every other year close to a hundred sailors race across the Atlantic to compete in the Mini Transat.
Why? And: why not?
Here are some thoughts from my side. However, even more important: I would love to hear from you and what you think about the Mini Transat. Leave a comment or send me a mail, whatever your plans are.
Some critical thoughts on the Mini Transat
I cannot really tell why I find those tiny boats so attractive. A very interesting article by Peter Marsh from Northwest Yachting Magazine very clearly states some of the obvious negatives everyone is keen to ignore. Some highlights:
– bowsprit half the length of the boat; just another widow-maker?
– high speed and excellent when sailing downwind, what about the other direction?
– 21 ft long, 10 ft transom; unique ratio for that class, why has no one else adopted it?
– is it really still the “cheap” class to finish a transatlantic race (see below)?
– uncomfortable by all means…
Many thanks to Peter for his excellent lines and judgement. His article is based on research during his visit of the start of the Mini Transat 2013-edition and talking to various participating sailors.
During all those Mini Transats and other races having taken place in the last three to four decades the Minis have proven their seaworthiness and reliability, at least that’s how I see it. From a series boats’ perspective.
But: Aren’t prototypes always the ones daring new grounds? And with that, aren’t they also always the ones usually breaking things, looking stupid because of fallen off keels and broken masts, and at the same time being celebrated for all sorts of new records?
Classe Mini as kickstarter for offshore careers
The Classe Mini has been the testing ground for new technological ideas. It has also been very fertile soil for quite a few now internationally successful sailors. Something like 15 official races take place every year, so enough possibilities to sail, race and compete.
The Mini Transat is the ultimate international highlight, the ultra-marathon of it all – or, as others put it, an expensive way to kill yourself.
Small boat, and built for oceans
Whatever it is, I guess my fondness of small boats also keeps me interested in the Mini 6.50. Very basic living, a lot of fun sailing, and a challenge every time you are on board – certainly my cup of tea.
But why on earth am I talking about the Mini Transat? Could I not simply be sailing a Mini out of somewhere in Northern Germany and enjoy the weekend tours?
No. No, I have done those weekend and brief holiday tours before (not on a Mini, though). I need a very clear objective, and simply cruising around isn’t one.
The “speed-pic” above as well as the pic on the left are my interpretations of the Mini Transat… any questions? (this was, sorry folks, meant to be ironic…)
Mini Transat – yes or no?
So what about “dream or nightmare”? It certainly would be brilliant being able to qualify and take part in a Mini Transat. This would definitely be the greatest challenge of my life so far, be it physically, mentally, or nautically. I am pretty sure that it would be something I’d feed on for the rest of my days.
Simultaneously, and not surprisingly, this whole idea scares the living daylights out of me. Ocean crossing in a nutshell like this? And I do need my six hours of sleep per day. In one go, ideally…
Budget for a Mini Transat campaign
Anyway, apart from all sailors’ and logical talk, how much money would I need for this prolonged period of madness? What should the budget look like for a Mini Transat campaign?
In a separate post my assumption was that if this were to be in addition to an ordinary working life, you could get to the Mini Transat finish line with a budget way below EUR 100.000 (very conservative calculation). For an additional EUR 50.000 you could get a two year-campaign and concentrate on boat, sailing, racing, getting it done. That’s the monetary theory.
Funnily enough (or rather: freakily enough) I have changed the ending of the above mentioned post at least once a week. Yes, No, Yes, No – and so on. Now it is down to a Yes. For the time being. And it can and will stay a Yes. So just in case there is a person out there willing to spend quite a bit of money on giving me the by far biggest scare of my life, then go ahead and contact me.
There are, however, quite a few folks keen to complete the Mini Transat. Be it the push for a career in sailing, a personal adventure or the joys of the class, the reasons are manifold.
One young lady willing to interrupt her medical studies for a year or so to train and compete in the Classe Mini is Lina Rixgens. She aims to complete the Mini Transat 2017 – and parts of her story you can find here. So instead of wasting your money on supporting me, it would be a much better investment to get Lina to the starting (and finish) line of a couple of races plus, ultimately, the Mini Transat.
Beginning of 2018: Yes, she’s done it! Lina has completed the Mini Transat 2017!!
What about you and sailing a Mini?
So, these are my thoughts on the Mini Transat. What do YOU think?
Are you interested in the Classe Mini, Mini Fastnet, Mini Transat, the equally challenging Les Sables – Les Açores – Les Sables, or any other race? What gets you attracted to those Mini 6.50 racers? I do look forward to hearing from you, please feel free to use the comment form below or send me some lines via the contact form.
Update January 2018: I have contacted the participants of the Mini Transat 2015 as well as the those of the Mini Transat 2017. I sent them a couple of simple questions on budget and some other items. The very interesting summaries you can find in these two articles here,
Thanks for reading – and if you liked this article, please share with your sailing friends… happy sailing!