Some very happy sailors finally qualify for epic singlehanded transat

It has been announced by the Classe Mini that five extra boats previously not officially entered for the Transatlantic race starting on Saturday from La Rochelle to Brazil, will now be accepted as official entries for the race. The cutting edge 21 foot ocean going skiffs, which will sail through some dangerous shipping on their 1,000 mile first leg, will have one stopover in the Canaries before continuing on the 3,000 miles through the doldrums to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil.

The Mini Transat, now renamed Transat 6.50 after the 6.5 metre class rule, has been massively oversubscribed this year. Many boats did not complete their qualification in time for the deadline of 15th June, with the new rule of 2,000 miles of racing and sailing proving a little too much for some.

British Mini sailor Ian Munslow was one of the lucky five to get a place after the organisers appealed to the Paris authorities to extend the number of entries for the race. Ian built his own Owen/Clarke designed Mini with a small budget and has been living aboard since April this year with the Transat as his goal. Ian felt he had to compete regardless of qualification in the race as he says “this is my house, I have no other job, I was going to go anyway but it’s better to be official”. Certainly the authorities had been worried about frustrated sailors doing exactly this and it must have been an important factor in deciding to increase the number of entries.

Another new official entry is Ronan Guerin, the French favourite. Ronan has a new Magnen designed Mini and is fully sponsored. Some may feel a little put out that the goal posts have been moved at such a late date but there is no doubt that the Grand Pavois as organisers of the race are pleased as the extra five add competition and publicity for the event.

The five other British entries in this French dominated race are Sam Davies, Paul Peggs, Simon Curwen, Mike Inglis and Brian Thompson who all seem in good form with no apparent major setbacks at this stage. Sam Davis, who is being spoken of as the “new Ellen” is expected to finish in a top position as is multihull sailor Brian Thompson – currently the British favourite and winner of the prologue race yesterday.

Keep a look out for regular updates on the Minis on this site as well as a full start report in the November issue of Yachting World.

Nathalie Le Pen