Sailing single-handed is one thing, racing solo on the Atlantic on a small boat you hardly know is something quite different. Despite having had a couple of days training only Lina’s handled the first two regattas pretty well.
To say Lina Rixgens is new to solo regattas would not really be true. She is a World Championship-experienced sailor in class Europe. However, sailing on a Classe Mini Ocean racing yacht is a different story. Just after Easter she has started sailing on mini doc, a Pogo 2 she will be training and racing on for the next two years up until the Mini Transat 2017.
First regatta for Lina as a skipper in Classe Mini
Lina had a couple of days to find her way around her boat when the first regatta came up. It was the 150nm “Bretagne Sud Mini Lorient” (BSM), a two-handed race starting in Lorient. 76 Minis at the starting line, winds up to 40kn and a very tight time limit.
Well, only about a third of all series boats managed to cross the finish line in time. Most of the finishers were brand new boats, mini doc is not one of them. Lina’s partner on this storm training session was Katrina Ham, an Australien Mini-sailor with thousands of miles Classe Mini experience (including Mini Transat).
Very first solo sailing for Lina on mini doc
The first solo tour for Lina was a nice 55nm sail from Lorient to Pornichet (including some night sailing). Lina’s aim for moving mini doc to Pornichet was to take part in the “Pornichet Select”, a 300nm solo regatta. This time it was 62 Minis at the starting line. Lina finished her very first solo regatta as boat no. 41 out of 51 series boats. More details on race preparation, navigational highlights and regatta description you can find on Lina’s homepage.
Last miles of Lina’s first solo regatta
As I found her description of the last couple of miles of her first solo regatta extremely interesting, here is a brief translation and summary:
“Only 10nm to sail until the narrow entry into Pornichet. I really looked forward to finishing, my boat was pretty fast, and besides having checked the next couple of waypoints I had already prepared various lines and fenders.
With about 1nm to go, the wind changed slightly and all I could do was to go on sailing with one tack after the other. That was indeed the final challenge: to sail into the navigationally demanding and narrow bight, in the middle of the night, and wind coming directly from an absolutely useless direction (the finishing line). Luckily I had set up enough waypoints starboard and portside, I knew exactly where I was and slowly I managed to sail in the right direction.
Once I had passed the narrowest section I had some trouble finding the finishing line: too many lights from land made it difficult locating it, although I knew where it was supposed to be. Finally, at 01:30h in the morning, I crossed the finishing line… my brother Jan and quite a few Mini-sailors welcomed mini doc and me, unbelievable!
Such a warm and hearty welcome, in the middle of the night, very moving and impressive. The last couple of days I managed to sleep for about 10 minutes at a time, and how little that was I realised once I was back on land. I really looked forward to having a nice and hot shower, plus a good rest in a comfy bed.”
Back in La Rochelle
mini doc is now in La Rochelle. Lina will return soon from her medical studies and pick up the training with her training group “Pôle Mini 6.50”. The next sailing and training sessions have been planned already. Her next regatta will be the Mini Fastnet – good luck with that, Lina!