MINI TRANSAT – For the first time in the USA, a group of singlehanded sailors from all over the country are going to race from California to Hawaii aboard Mini-Transat boats – 21-foot ocean capable racers that are barely larger than the average suburban vehicle. The Singlehanded Mini Transpac will be held in July of 2013.
“Mini” is short for “Mini Transat 6.50″. Each Mini (there are a variety of different make and models) is designed according to strict box rules. The boat cannot be longer than 21.3 feet (6.50 meters) and can’t be wider than 9.84 feet (3 meters). There are restrictions for mast height, draft, shape of cabin-top, size of companionway, and also safety constraints such as positive flotation, righting moment and escape hatch to name a few.
Mini architects and builders have created boats that are extremely light, fast, powerful yet stable and safe, even in the most extreme offshore conditions. With the innovations developed for this class, these designers have influenced an entire industry. Open 60s, Volvo 70s on down to production cruising boats have all taking a page or two from the Mini playbook.
Racing offshore with a crew is plenty challenging but now imagine racing offshore singlehanded in a boat this small. For most of these racers the Mini Transpac will be their first singlehanded voyage and there’s no doubt the challenge is huge. Beyond the crossing itself, getting to the start-line will be no small order. Boats have to meet safety requirements and sailors must prove that they can indeed spend 15-20 days alone at sea. Each racer will have to sail a 400nm qualifier, this will be no laid back cruise – for most of the entrants it’ll be more like a hike up Mount Everest. Some of the world’s most notable and legendary offshore sailors including Ellen MacArthur, Sam Davies and Michel Desjoyeaux have cut their teeth aboard these tough little vessels.
A website is currently being created for the race that will employ tracking software that will enable the sailing community to be able to watch the battle on the water. The Minis, being very equal in boat speed, gives the Mini Transpac the excitement of an inshore one-design race combined with the jeopardy of a round the world contest.
The race has already begun. Sailors are getting to know each other, boats are being prepared as we speak. A quality offshore boot camp is in the organizational stage in Southern California that will launch this winter. This event is only open to Mini Transat boats that qualify as such.
Once in Hawaii, this will be more than a group of sailors arriving. It will be a tight gathering of friends who would have shared the same emotions, intellectual and physical challenges. And last but not least, another factor to file in the “plus” column is these boats are small enough to be affordable and easily be shipped back to the mainland once the race is through.
If you want to learn more about the Mini Transpac 2013, “Like” the North American Mini Class Facebook page. There will be more information very soon.
Also, as a teaser, enjoy this video of Singlehanded Mini Sailors in Europe, where crossing the oceans on 21 foot boat is a must for all offshore sailors ;-)