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small world

minis

small world

Ryan Finn is making an effort to make it happen in the mini class, He is in France getting it together for the Mini Transat. Here is the latest from Ryan…

The Mini class is an interesting bubble in the sailing world.  In many ways it is at the forefront of the keelboat technology as many revolutionary ideas were refined within the mini fleet before moving into the bigger boats.  Canting keels, twin rudders, water ballast, articulating bowsprits, etc…  It’s a surprise to me in some ways, because mini sailors are generally broke, but this brings me to my point:  There are very few truly professional campaigns being run within the Mini fleet.  Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just the nature of Minis.

Even the campaigns that could be considered professional are nowhere near the level of a top IMOCA program, and those top IMOCA programs are further still to an America’s cup campaign!  So what are we doing in the mini world?  And if we’re that far down the slope, what should our priorities actually be?  The lack of money, professionalism and development in Minis is a weakness within the class, but is it one that can be exploited by non-professionals like myself simply by changing my perspective? 

That is something I would like to find out.  The boats themselves tend to draw some pretty techy people to the class, and the docks and internet forums tend to be filled with a lot of chatter about what will or won’t work, and it can be intimidating for someone without much experience.  I’ve sailed with a lot of solo sailors, and it’s clear there is no one right way to do this job.  My theory is that generally all the dock side and forum talk about shaving grams here or there,  where a chine should be, whether or not to bring an extra solar panel, and what boat can or can’t do well is about 90% bullshit in practice if you break gear or don’t know how to use the boat properly in the first place.  All of that chatter flew out of the window last September when a Pogo 2 finished second in the first leg of the Mini Transat in the hands of Francisco Loboto.  That is, ahead of every prototype but one!  A Pogo 2 is a production boat, racing in its own class known as “series”.  Because of the restricted series rules it would be hard to make a prototype as slow as a Pogo 2 or any other series boat out there.  That goes for the older prototypes also.  It gives me faith that somewhere in there there’s a workable solution for me.

My challenge
I have an eleven year old prototype and I’m racing it in a class that has developed significantly since my boat was launched.  This makes it harder for me to sell to a sponsor as a competitive campaign, because a sponsor will do their homework and see an eleven year old boat is not a traditionally competitive solution, nor is an American skipper.   They may be right from a business standpoint, but there are some things that can’t be predicted by economics.  I’m determined to demonstrate those things, but I need some financial support to do that.  I’ve been trying to find a financial sponsor for a couple years now, and here I am.

The approach
 Sailing Anarchy has stepped in as a sponsor with some financial support for my campaign, so that at least I can get my boat sailing and start testing some of the new gear.  It’s not enough to get me to the start line of any races, but it keeps me moving towards that goal, and SA is a family I love being a part of. 

The goal of this season is to race competitively in the Les Sables> Acores> Les Sables race which is a 2,340 mile race starting on August 1st.  I am fortunate to have a DCQ for this race, which in a nut shell means all I have to do is complete the Mini Pavois in May and do a 1000 mile qualifier, and I’ll secure a spot in the Azores race.

Because of several other material sponsors, notably Ullman Sails, Samson Ropes, and Colligo Marine, and also a lot of support here in France from a tight network or friends, I’m able to be here at minimal cost.  It’s pretty amazing actually.  That leaves me to fundraise for the $15,000 USD racing budget which, barring any major incident, gets me through to the end of the Azores race.

So, what was once a lone grassroots effort has turned into a Sailing Anarchy grassroots effort, and I’m reaching out to the SA community to support me.  It’s a sponsorship in which I will be working hard to represent the SA community on and off the race course.  It will be interesting to see what is possible in this fleet with the support, the boat, and the experiences I have at hand.  No excuses, just hard work.  And of course, $15K. If you can lend a hand, please do. Picture courtesy of Bruno Bourvry.