Please select your home edition
BandG Zeus3 AUS 728x90

Mini Transat – 40 years old, a fine age

by Mini Transat on 20 Apr
Mini Transat © Christophe Beschi
Created to ensure sailors once again had a prominent place in a race ranking, the Mini Transat was devised by British sailor Bob Salmon and first set sail from Penzance in Cornwall some 40 years ago.

Twenty-seven sailors took part in the first edition, somewhat shrouded in secrecy. Since that time, the number of applicants has continued to grow and the race has gained in notoriety, yet the pioneering spirit remains.

In 1976, the world of offshore racing is in turmoil. The OSTAR, the famous singlehanded transatlantic race between Plymouth and Newport had come very close to being won by Alain Colas on a giant 72-metre four-master equipped with a wealth of power-assisted devices. In response, the British decide to limit the maximum size of the boats to 60-feet (18m28). To counter this move, certain French sailors opt for the idea of launching the Route du Rhum in 1978, which will continue to invite boats of unlimited sizes.

In light of this squabbling, Bob Salmon puts forward the idea of going back to one’s roots: one man against the ocean. One thing is clear: the smaller the boat, the greater the sailor’s input. As such, he decides that solely boats measuring a maximum length of 6.50m will be allowed to enter the race. The course will be simple: a compulsory delivery trip from Penzance to the Canaries, then the actual race itself along the trade wind route to Antigua. A concept boasting surprising vitality is born.

A few key dates

1977 – The first edition: it’s Daniel Gilard who secures victory at the helm of Petit Dauphin, a Serpentaire. For this first edition, Bob Salmon, organiser and racer, finishes well after the first boats into the West Indies, who ‘clock themselves out’ on the finish line. Thereafter, the results of the first leg will count towards the final ranking.

1985 – Changing of the guard: after four editions, Bob Salmon passes on the role of event organiser. It’s a French journalist who has fallen in love with the race, Jean-Luc Garnier, who takes up the event torch and sees legendary French sailor Yves Parlier secure the win that year. Brest then Concarneau will be the start venues for the 85 – 87 – 89 editions.

1991 – The technological revolution: this year, alongside the amateurs who flock to the start in Douarnenez, north-west France, Michel Desjoyeaux, who already boasts a sizeable track record in offshore racing by this point, lines up for the start aboard a prototype laden with innovations. A streamlined wing mast, a canting keel and an asymmetric spinnaker mounted on an adjustable bowsprit will soon be adopted by the Mini sailors before going on to become part of the rule on other series like the IMOCAs of the Vendée Globe. It’s Damien Grimont who takes victory in the event.

1993 – The truncated race: during the negotiation of the Bay of Biscay, a deep depression scoops up the fleet and generates some particularly violent winds. The first leg goes on to be cancelled after the disappearance of Pascal Leys, one of the race favourites. Thierry Dubois takes the win in the second leg of the race.

1999 – A victim of its own success: for the first time, the Mini Transat has to refuse certain entries. Several competitors on the waiting list won’t be able to take the start due to the lack of places. This particular year, the bad weather causes numerous retirements, prompting the Classe Mini to toughen up its qualification criteria.

2001 – Changing heading: it’s a double revolution. For the first time since taking on a French lilt, the Mini Transat does not set sail from a Breton port, instead departing from La Rochelle. A new destination is also on offer to competitors, Salvador de Bahia in Brazil. For six editions, the race will stick to the same course.

2011 – The ‘scow bow’ changes the tone: naval architect and racer, David Raison dominates on his Magnum, a prototype with a radically different look. With her round bow, she is more powerful and faster than the classic prototypes. A revolution is underway.

2013 – Back to its roots: it’s Douarnenez that assumes the organiser’s mantle for the next two editions, along a course that harps back to the race’s origins, since the final destination is that of the West Indies once again.
2017 – A story yet to be written: see you in the straits on 1 October for the start of the first leg between La Rochelle and Las Palmas (Gran Canaria). 84 solo sailors will be there to write a new page in the race’s history.

Zhik AkzoNobelb 660x82Beneteau SAIL Oceanis 35.1 37.1 41.1 660x82 1Cooper Teamwear 660x82 1

Related Articles

Liverpool announces team entry in Clipper Round the World Yacht Race
Liverpool 2018 team will visit twelve international destinations on six different continents. Taking advantage of the race’s global platform, the Liverpool 2018 team will visit twelve international destinations on six different continents.
Posted on 20 Jul
OmanAir poised for action as waves delay Extreme Sailing Series opener
Although disappointed, Oman Air remain poised for action with three days of high-octane foiling racing ahead of them. The Omani outfit, renowned for their skill in challenging conditions, had hoped to make the best of a testing first-day forecast of big winds and huge waves as they look to improve on their trio of third-place finishes in the opening three Acts.
Posted on 20 Jul
Extreme Sailing Series – Big swells force postponement of opener
Race Director John Craig made the decision to suspend racing due to the tall, steep waves rolling through the stadium Craig said that such a sea state, combined with winds of up to 25 knots, would have likely caused the super-fast GC32 catamarans to fall off their foils and nosedive into the wave in front, potentially leading to capsizes.
Posted on 20 Jul
Class 40 duo strengthened by challenges on Azores and back race
Oman Sail Class 40 crew have emerged from their debut in the highly competitive class, strengthened by the experience Experienced French sailor Sidney Gavignet and Omani offshore yachtsman Fahad Al Hasni finished the 2,500-mile Les Sables-Horta-Les Sables race from France to the Azores and back in seventh place, with conditions on the two-leg race often proving challenging.
Posted on 20 Jul
Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek 2017 - day 1, a packed race card
With the Wind Gods delivering some excellent racing breeze today, everyone is hoping for more of the same tomorrow. In spite of some rather unpromising weather forecasts, the wind arrived bang on cue as a fresh 10-15 knots of breeze powered the 41-strong fleet around the course on Day 1 of the 2017 Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek, in what turned out to be a packed race card – three races for all classes except Cruising and Multihull Cruising who completed two races each.
Posted on 20 Jul
Harry Price maintains lead in Governor’s Cup Match Racing
His perfect 13-0 record leads the fleet of 12 entries from Australia, United Kingdom, New Zealand and the United States Spectators were looking forward today to the last match of the first round robin (in which every boat sails against each other boat) as it featured Price against Killian. The two had not sailed against each other since last year’s Governor’s Cup, when they raced against each other in the petit finals for third place in the 2016 Cup.
Posted on 20 Jul
Transat Jacques Vabre – 42 pairs at sea
20 monohulls of 12.18 m in length will compete on the great chessboard of the Atlantic. 20 crews composed of sailing amateurs and professionals, who are unreserved fans of race machines which are high-tech at the same time as being steadfastly sailboats.
Posted on 20 Jul
Volvo Ocean Race - Another America's Cup winner joins MAPFRE
Joan Vila, one of the best navigators in the world, will return to the Volvo Ocean Race with MAPFRE Joan Vila, one of the best navigators in the world, will return to the Volvo Ocean Race with MAPFRE in 2017-18, some 15 years after becoming the first Spanish sailor to win the coveted trophy. One of the most decorated sailors on the planet, Vila joins MAPFRE having last competed as part of a victorious Illbruck Challenge campaign in 2001-02.
Posted on 20 Jul
Volvo Ocean Race - Follow the build of team Azkonobel
Follow the construction of a new One Design Volvo Ocean 65. Follow the construction of a new One Design Volvo Ocean 65. The build process takes over 36,000 man hours, In this video you can follow the construction of a One Design Volvo Ocean 65 racing machine from start to sailing, in a top quality building facility.. Team AkzoNobel will race this boat in the 2017-18 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Posted on 20 Jul
Int Moth Worlds - Zhik returns to its spiritual home at 2017 Worlds
Zhik is returning to its roots as the official clothing sponsor of the 2017 McDougall McConaghy Moth World Championships Zhik, the innovative sailing apparel specialist, is returning to its roots as the official clothing sponsor of the 2017 McDougall McConaghy Moth World Championships. And, ten years on, the Moths are returning to their spiritual home on Lake Garda. Zhik and the International Moth class are virtually synonymous with each other.
Posted on 20 Jul