The Minis are just now headed on their one-stop jaunt across the ocean in one of the ultimate man vs. nature battles under sail. Aussie Minista Katrina Ham made it to the line, and she gives us a preview:
To most of the non-french sailing world the Mini Transat is a bit of a unknown. Many people have heard about it and are interested, but sadly it all seems too far away. In just over 24hrs 72 21ft pocket rockets will race from Douarnenez, France to Guadaloupe with a stopover in Lanzarote in the Canaries in the Mini Transat Iles de Guadeloupe 2015. That’s 4020nm in total with no communication with land and no computer navigation…just old school charts and a SSB receiver to get weather forecasts. I am very thankful that I will be one of the skippers. I am also very thankful the weather forecast looks better than the 2013 Transat of which 40% of boats did not finish and several were lost. I was one of those sad statistics last time so my objective this time is just to get to the finish. Not exactly what I want to write but given most this year has been fighting just to be allowed on the start line anything better than getting to the other side is a bonus. I do not have the newest boat or sails (but I do have brilliant hardware and ropes thanks to Wichard, Profurl, Donaghys, Southern Ropes and Infinity Nautique) and while I live in Lorient (in my van) I have not had time (around teaching English) or money to take advantage of the training on offer. I am also more than willing to admit I am not a rockstar racer by any means…..just an Aussie with a dream. I might be here for the experience and the challenge of going solo but there are many others with an eye on the top spot.
In the carbon protos there is a face off between Swiss Simon Koster with his very new, very radical and some could argue untested “frog scow” with Cup style L-foils (rules have been changed for next year so allow IMOCA style foils that can extend beyond the limits of the box rule) and Davy Beaudart with his Raison (same designer as the original scow mini which won the 2011 Transat and came second in 2013) designed scow. But it is as much about whose boats stays in one piece as seen in the 2013 Mini Transat when Benoit Marie sailed into first place in an older design. Of the “old” non-scow boats I would put my bets on Federic Denis with Luke Berry the first Anglo-phone.
In the fibreglass production “Series” boats there is also an interesting face off between the new generation boats like the long awaited Pogo 3 and new Ofcet design. The relatively new Benoit Hantzperg would be my pick of the Pogo 3’s is up against seasoned Ian Lipinski with an Ofcet, who also has unfinished business from 2013 after losing his boat off the Portuguese coast. Then the other question can the previous generation boats including 2015 podium regular Tanguay Le Turquais’s Argo and the 2013 podium dominating Nacira’s keep up? What once dominated mini the now “vintage” pogo 2’s like mine while might not be the fastest are still the most numerous.