by Katrina Ham
Extreme, challenging and mad are often used, but however you describe it, the Mini Transat is considered one of the most demanding yacht races in the world. In 2013, eighty-four sailors will set sail from Douarnenez, France in their 21ft (6.5m) yachts (their home for the next 30 days).
Racing double handed in 2012
They will race solo across the Atlantic to the island of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, with a stopover in the Canary Islands. The boats have no luxuries what so ever: no toilet, no bunk, and no galley. Class rules ban the use of computers, including mapping GPS, and all communication is done via VHF. With no communication with the outside world and no crewmates to talk to, the mental challenges are as tough as the physical ones, which is why I want to race it.
Growing up in Brisbane, I was brought up around boats, however it wasn’t until high school that I got involved with sailing. I started off racing dinghies, then after moving to Sydney in 2009 I discovered my passion for offshore racing. Since graduating from Griffith University on the Gold Coast, my passion for sailing has taken me all over the world. I have worked as a corporate racing skipper as well as numerous deliveries and refits, all with the intention of one day racing across oceans.
Having heard of the Mini Transat while at school in Australia, and working for IMOCA 60 and Class 40 teams I knew it was the race for me, and that I had to find a way to make it happen. My goal is to race in the 2013 Mini Transat, and then continue to train and race in France to be in a strong position for the 2015 Mini Transat.
Entries are limited for the Transat and it will be an uphill battle to qualify in less than one year. To do so I need to complete 1000nm of official class races as well as a 1000nm solo passage. Having raced on the Classe Mini circuit double handed in 2012, I have now moved to Lorient in France to prepare my boat AUS785 for the coming season. Moving without any French and without a major sponsor has been a massive leap of faith but it is the best place to be to prepare for the coming season. France’s dominance of solo ocean racing comes from events such as the Mini Transat. Ellen MacArthur (1997), Samantha Davies (2001), Loïck Peyron (1979) and Michel Desjoyeaux (1991) have all cut their teeth in what is seen as the incubator and test ground for professional solo ocean racing.
Follow my journey on and off the water at Katrina Ham Racing and at www.facebook.com/KatrinaHamRacing.