Right now, Lina is in the very middle of her sailing dream. On 01. October, the Mini Transat 2017 has started and Lina Rixgens was one of 81 Mini sailors at the starting line.
I needed a couple of days after the start of the Mini Transat to sit down and write this article. Never had I been to a race start like this one. Even though I was a spectator only, I was emotionally overwhelmed. No kidding now: when the boats got towed out towards the starting area, the cheers and Good Byes brought tears to my eyes. The relief of finally getting started, the anxiety of the way ahead, the Good Byes from the huge crowd. Wow.
What the Mini sailors felt during that day, I can only very vaguely try to imagine.
What was so amazing, so impressive?
It is hard to believe that more than two years have passed since I started supporting Lina’s Mini Transat campaign. Knowing how much effort she put into this, her sailing dream, and now finally seeing her being towed towards the starting line is difficult to put into words.
This weekend was mainly, but not all about Lina, though. I have seen lots and lots of hugs and tears on Sunday morning, and this has moved me tremendously. And I have to admit that I was quite surprised by how many kids there were, saying long Good Byes, not wanting to let go.
The number of people, folks interested in sailing, had thrown me off my feet as well. Picture this: you are in your final preparations for the biggest race of your life. And hundreds, thousands of people are passing you and your boat, some of them wanting to talk and asking all sorts of questions. I have not seen any Mini sailor being annoyed about that, they were all smiles, happy and – kind of – relaxed.
As expected (at least from my side this was no surprise), Lina was done and ready to go two days prior to race start. On other boats, you could still hear and see quite a bit of – occasionally frantic – work to be done. This plus all the visitors walking around plus the buzz of the race village plus pre-race briefings, interviews, TV cameras, pictures taken everywhere – fantastic.
Those two days have impressed me immensely, I can very well imagine that right after such a weekend a lot of sailors will say “I want to do that as well”.
Mini Transat is not for the faint-hearted
However, to get to the starting line of a Mini Transat is no piece of cake. Lina has worked hard towards her sailing dream for three or more years.
Not only is sailing a Classe Mini racer on the Atlantic demanding, especially during longer regattas. She also needed to look after lots of organisational stuff, be it sponsorship, theoretical training sessions, boat maintenance, equipment update. Not to forget the various regatta mileage required, plus a 1.000 nm solo qualifier.
Sailing dream crumbling? Repair required just off Cape Finisterre!
Lina’s sailing dream was (is) to participate in the Mini Transat, and complete it as the first German woman. And if you think “well, she is on her way now”, then that is not the end of the story yet.
She was doing well in the middle of the race fleet when the connection between the two rudders broke. Sails down, repair required, and this took her a couple of hours. Meanwhile, the other boats sailed on, the gap growing wider by the hour.
But Lina is a fighter, strong-willed, focused on her goal. She set sail again and started to pursue the rest of the fleet, continuing her sailing dream. It is important for her to get to Las Palmas, then she can repair the damage properly before the start of the second leg.
As you might know, there is no communication with the sailors, so I don’t know how she is feeling. She might be a bit disappointed as due to her repair break she is now chasing all other boats but one. At the same time, she is still sailing and racing, and she is still participating in the Mini Transat. Her main goal, her sailing dream, is still alive: to complete the Mini Transat.
Fair winds, Lina, may the rest of the race be a wonderful journey for you!
Quite unusual for me – lots of pictures
On race start weekend, I took more than 1.400 pictures. Unfortunately, the weather on Sunday was everything but sunny. Still, I hope you get a good impression of the atmosphere there.