Classe Mini Sailors, What Is Your Biggest Frustration?

Sailing projects not completed, a sailing career abandoned, agony high instead of spirits rocketing. A question that keeps coming back to me: What frustrates you most with sailing in the Classe Mini?

gimme speed... Classe Mini 6.50 (D2V2)I have followed the Classe Mini rather closely in the last 18 months or so, and despite successful stories of winners and finishers, of smiles and laughter everywhere, there are quite a few sailors feeling extremely down. ‘Feeling down’ meaning they are in the middle of a major crisis. Lack of funding, injuries, race calendar, weather, boat size, boat handling, the list could go on.

Those are only a couple of the reasons I have found when looking at Classe Mini sailors’ websites or social media entries. What a disaster! And that after so much bravery they had shown in the past.

Continue reading “Classe Mini Sailors, What Is Your Biggest Frustration?”

Budget Mini Transat 2015 – Plus Some Other Insights

A very fast Mini Transat 2015 is history. Glory and tragedy, as usual so close together. This is not only a summary regarding my questions to those sailors on their Mini Transat budget. It is an article about an extraordinary experience.

before the start of the Mini Transat 2015 (c) Lina Rixgens
before the start of the Mini Transat 2015 (c) Lina Rixgens

I have watched and followed the joy, relief, smiles, parties, tears, pains, laughs and friendship of this Classe Mini family. And it has been pure bliss. The sailor in me had been a bit envious during the final preparation stages. Even though this is just one regatta out of many it is a fascinating event indeed: race and sail across the Atlantic in a 6,5m yacht (well, “yacht”, behaving like a dinghy…).

Anyway, one of the things I love doing is checking with some folks (i.e. experts) whether a mere theoretical research of mine makes sense or not. Back in January 2015 I put some numbers in a spreadsheet and came out with a EUR budget-figure which would get you to the starting line of a Mini Transat. All theory, of course. And there were mainly two ways to figure out whether the results of this research were kind of useful or not:

  1. Run a Mini Transat campaign myself and see which budget I would need
  2. Check with participants and let them tell their story.

Without going into too much detail, option 2 was the only one at this point in time which would bring me closer to an answer. Continue reading “Budget Mini Transat 2015 – Plus Some Other Insights”

Three Optimists Extend Rainbow Pirates Fleet

Third time lucky? It is rather a case of lucky to the power of three – on the very first try. The team of “Meer bewegen” were on cloud nine when they received the news that they had been granted a donation of three new Optimists. They are an extension to their fleet of barrier-free sailing boats.

three new Optimists (c Meer bewegen)
three new Optimists (c Meer bewegen)

The IMMAC Sailing Academy regularly sponsors training and development of young sailors. One way they are doing this is by giving away Optimists to sailing clubs and schools.

Meer bewegen” had sent in their application for a sponsorship. They knew how unlikely it might be that they get assigned a boat by the independent committee. I would have loved to see the team when they heard the news that they will in future have not one, not two, but rather three brand new Optimists. With those they can enable their youngest to go sailing on the Wittensee. Continue reading “Three Optimists Extend Rainbow Pirates Fleet”

Will Unlucky Romain Try Again?

No matter how hard you try or how much you want something to happen, occasionally it simply won’t work out. Romain Mouchel has made this experience twice already. His intentions to complete the Mini Transat have been shattered in 2013 and 2015. Here is his story so far.

Romain Mouchel enjoying the sunshineRomain has been sailing as long as he can remember. The range of boats he gained sailing experience on is vast, from Lasers to F-18 and 49ers and yachts. At the age of 16 he set himself a challenging target. He wanted to fulfil a childhood dream, race in the Classe Mini and complete the Mini Transat. While in his last year in university, Romain decided to not do things by halves and chartered the Mini 346 for an entire season. And what a boost to his offshore racing as well as single-handed sailing experience it was! Continue reading “Will Unlucky Romain Try Again?”

Baltic Sea Calling

Some call it pond, for others it is already an ocean. Quite a lot of folks hardly know where exactly it is, and some sailors never even dream of leaving its sailing grounds. The Baltic Sea can be described in many ways, some of them are “gorgeous, diversified, underestimated”. As for me: I love it.

last couple of kilometresThe Baltic Sea is the largest brackish inland sea on the planet, covering 412.500 square kilometres. The deepest you could dive (theoretically) is 459 metres, the average depth, however, is only 55 metres. Along its coastline of 8.000 km something between 50-85 million people are living. That was it already with facts and figures, let’s move on to the interesting stuff. Continue reading “Baltic Sea Calling”

Any Young Sailors Around?

No, I am not trying to set up a talent pool for the next generation of America’s Cup sailors. What kept the question of “any young sailors around” in my head was my own experience from ex- membership in two sailing clubs, as well as friends’ experiences from their clubs. A recent article by Judith brought this topic back to the surface and has led me to ask some folks all around the world what their impression is.

Back in 2008-2010 I was a member in two sailing clubs. One right next to the shores of the Baltic Sea, the other one for sailing on the Ratzeburger See, a large lake in Northern Germany. Club events we (the family) only rarely took part in, mainly because the “shock” of the first party had a rather negative effect on us. We were the youngest by many years – and we had already been in our mid-/end-thirties back then.

No other young families, no kids around, and this all made it a bit boring for us. Interesting stories to be heard, yes. But always being a junior by something like 30 years or so took the fun out of spending time at the club’s premises. Continue reading “Any Young Sailors Around?”

Rainbow Pirates Sailing Dinghy With Disability Kit

rainbow pirates logoBy accident I literally stumbled over the team of “Meer bewegen” during this year’s Hanseboot. The team’s ambition is to get people with and without disability to go sailing together. They have equipped an ordinary dinghy with a kit especially designed for disability. With that they are roaming the waters on the Wittensee in Schleswig-Holstein, Northern Germany.

Sometimes little accidents turn out to be a positive event after all. While staring at a rather unusual boat interior I bumped into Eike Ketzler, who turned out to be the leader of the “Meer bewegen“-pack. A pretty interesting chat evolved and here I am with an article about the “Rainbow Pirates”, folks (and especially kids) with and without disability on a mission to go sailing together. Continue reading “Rainbow Pirates Sailing Dinghy With Disability Kit”

Marcus Calling It Quits

Part-time has become fulltime, and this certainly had not been the plan. Marcus Demuth has called off his campaign for the Mini Transat 2017.

Marcus on his Classe Mini TipTop "Brooklyn Express"Marcus has very well diagnosed and dissected the underlying problems while sailing in the past couple of months. Unhappiness while being on the boat has increased steadily. Constant questions on the progress of his Mini Transat campaign made it harder instead of easier. And not feeling well at all during sailing time had been the very final decision point.
Continue reading “Marcus Calling It Quits”

Lina Hooked On Mini Transat

“Wow” is the short version. Lina Rixgens spent the weekend in Douarnenez, soaking in the pre-race atmosphere of the Mini Transat. Her goal is to participate in the 2017 edition of the Mini Transat. Lina has sent me an email recently, and I cannot help but assume that she would have loved to be on one of the yachts that have left Douarnenez last Saturday.

Mini Transat 2015 Lina Rixgens embracing it all
Mini Transat 2015 Lina Rixgens embracing it all

Lina Rixgens is keen to get her own boat so she can start training properly. Her goal is to take part in the Mini Transat 2017. Up until then she has already plans for a rather tight and exhausting training and race calendar.

Just to be clear on this: She is not a novice sailor with a little girl’s dream. She is very experienced and internationally active in the class Europe, sailing and taking part also in World Championships.

Continue reading “Lina Hooked On Mini Transat”

Marcus On Part-Time Classe Mini Break

some Classe Mini boats in LorientHis ultimate goal is the Mini Transat 2017. The first steps and nautical miles in Classe Mini races have not been easy. Marcus Demuth, however, knows how to fight and will certainly keep going.

I’ve had the chance to exchange a couple of emails with Marcus recently, in between dentist appointments, work on his Mini and trying to find an apartment. Sorted and kind of structured, here is a brief interview with him.

Marcus, you have lived on board Brooklyn Express for quite some time now. How do you cope with (or enjoy) the basic living? And are you not a wee bit envious of folks having a good rest in a camper or an apartment?

I enjoyed living on Brooklyn Express … well, at least in the beginning, later on I simply didn’t mind. I am now in Nantes in a “real” apartment (rented by a Mini sailor) and I feel like living in a palace. Continue reading “Marcus On Part-Time Classe Mini Break”

Why Do You Like Sailing?

Sometimes a question gets fired into your comfort zone, and the first idea of an answer is something like “That’s easy, because… ehm… it’s obvious!” That’s what’s happened recently when a friend posed a very simple question. “Why do you like sailing?”

sailing into the sunsetSo, what is it about that sailing business? Apart from a perfect chance to get rid of as much money as you can afford – and sometimes even a lot more than that – why can many sailors simply not get enough of sailing? I’ll try to put into words the first couple of thoughts that crossed my mind after I had been asked that question. Why do I like sailing? Continue reading “Why Do You Like Sailing?”

Lina And Dominik Back From Mini Fastnet

Lina Rixgens and Dominik Lenk are back from the Mini Fastnet 2015. The event did not go as planned on Dominik’s prototype 348. But especially for Lina it was a great experience indeed.

Lina on board Mini 348 (c Simon Jourdain)
Lina on board Mini 348 (c Simon Jourdain)

“This was not my last Classe Mini regatta!” Those were Lina’s final words after a recap of the Mini Fastnet 2015. After a more than exciting week in Douarnenez and racing towards the Fastnet Rock she has not been disillusioned by the not so successful finish of the regatta.

“My first impression of the Classe Mini:”, Lina writes on her website, “extremely nice and helpful sailors, “bonjour” everywhere, very easy to get talking to fellow sailors. And all of a sudden the ‘big names folks’ of sailing, so far known from pictures and reports only, are right there in front of me. They are all smiling, talking to everyone, and being ever so nice to everyone else. Unbelievable!” Continue reading “Lina And Dominik Back From Mini Fastnet”

Lina Rixgens Mini Transat Campaign Picking Up Speed

Lina Rixgens has kicked off her Mini Transat CampaignShe has talked about it extensively already, and now she really gets going. Lina Rixgens gets sailing practice on Classe Mini racers, and her Mini Transat Campaign 2017 is certainly picking up speed.

Lina is fighting the usual Classe Mini and Mini Transat fight (at least it seems to be true for most participants). The sailing itself is only a small part of the entire Mini Transat campaign. Getting sponsors, funding and other supporters on board to actually make it to the starting line is taking up most of the time.

Continue reading “Lina Rixgens Mini Transat Campaign Picking Up Speed”

From Sea Kayak To Classe Mini: Marcus Demuth

He’s paddled his sea kayak around Britain and Ireland in record time. He has then given up a professional sea kayak career for sailing in the Classe Mini. Now he is living on board his “Brooklyn Express”, a 6,50m long TipTop, getting ready for the Mini Transat 2017. Here is a very interesting (and entertaining) article by Marcus Demuth.

Marcus on his Classe Mini TipTop "Brooklyn Express"
Marcus on his Classe Mini TipTop “Brooklyn Express”

My name is Marcus, and I was instantly drawn to Hubert’s blog both because of its content and his sense of humor.

I was born in Frankfurt/Main, and was a professional sea kayaker before I purchased a Classe Mini 6.50 series boat a little more than a year ago. I hoped that some of my “skills” as a sea kayaker would translate towards sailing a Mini. However, it quickly became apparent that sailing a Classe Mini boat has with kayaking as much in common as running around a christmas tree with a tin drum. Continue reading “From Sea Kayak To Classe Mini: Marcus Demuth”

Mini Transat – Dream Or Nightmare?

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.

Classe Mini 6.50 boat (D2V2)
Classe Mini 6.50 boat (D2V2)

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?

Continue reading “Mini Transat – Dream Or Nightmare?”