How do you average over 7 knots across the Atlantic in a 21-footer? By helming every possible minute, says the winner

What a great photo of Thomas Ruyant crossing the finish line of the 4,800-mile Mini Transat race in Brazil this morning in the early morning light.

Ruyant was the race favourite and before the start had felt the pressure of that very much. There’s so much that can go wrong, and the racing in these 21ft pocket rockets is extremely intense: any mistake or breakage costs enormously.

Impressively, Ruyant’s average speed for the whole race was 7.14 knots – and that’s on the rhumb line distance, not the course sailed.

How did he do it? Helming every hour God sent, he says:

“I really took risks in the Doldrums,” he admitted. “I was constantly at the helm saying: ‘After this we’ll be beating and you can rest.’

“Sometimes I used my spinnaker even when I encountered a squall. At this point I gradually widened the gap. I made top speed by helming almost all the time.”
Ruyant heads up the one-off prototype Minis, with the series production yachts to follow. His boat Faber France is a Finot-Conq design and Finot were justifiably quick to congratulate him and point out that this is the fifth Mini Transat win in a row for their designs.

Bravo to both.

Thanks to Thierry Martinez for the evocative shot.


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