The Mini Transat's great strengths is that it encourages entrants from well beyond the borders of France. Whilst many of the solo races boil down to duels between French sailors, the Mini Transat is the exception that proves the rule. Not only are international competitors present, but many of them have an excellent chance of claiming victory.
This had been a strong tradition since the origins of the Mini Transat. The very special status of the race is what quickly attracted foreign entrants. Right from the early editions we saw skippers travelling from far away to confront the French contingent, who represented the majority from the outset. Do not forget that American Norton Smith won the second edition of the Mini Transat. This year we have the very real possibility of victory by a non-French competitor in both series boats and prototypes.
Seven Italians on the line
They are the great leaders of the Mediterranean races. The Italians found in the Mini Transat an escape from and elitist yachting still steeped in maritime tradition. And for every edition they provide a sizable contingent of the entrants. This year there will be seven Italian starters including Michele Zambelli, one of the youngest skippers in the fleet. Michele has a seasoned prototype, but, as he showed in the Les Sables - Azores - Les Sables in 2012, he has the faith and power to move mountains.
But the Italian with the best chance of victory is undoubtedly Giancarlo Pedote. To prepare for the Mini Transat, Giancarlo did not hesitate to uproot himself and his family and install them in winter quarters in Lorient so he could benefit from the advice of the Lorient Grand Large training center. He will race on the old prototype of David Reason, winner of the Mini Transat 2011. He has now trained for more than two years to master all the subtleties of his boat and its very particular characteristics (most notably its rounded bow from which it gets its name 'Magnum' after the popular ice cream of the same shape). This approach is reaping rewards and he has been consistently at the forefront of pre-season races, including a victory in the important Trophée Marie-Agnès Péron 2013. He’s one to watch closely.
Antipodeans and Americans
Some do not hesitate to come from far away to attend. And two Australians will be on the starting line, namely Richard Hewson and Katrina Ham. Another representative of the southern hemisphere, the South African Craig Horsfield will also join the group. All three have settled around Lorient forming a small English-speaking community that has perfectly integrated into the core of inner circle of the Mini Transat. Jeffrey MacFarlane is a man determined to race the Mini Transat no matter what obstacles are put in his way. Originally from the United States, he participated in the pre-season races in the Mediterranean before his boat was shipwrecked in a gale. Determined to participate at any cost, he decided to rent the prototype of Czech navigator Milan Kolacek, which had claimed the Champion of France title, and he has battled through all the qualifying events to be present at the start. A good boat, unwavering determination, perhaps Jeffrey will follow the footsteps of Norton Smith? We must not forget the Canadian Diane Reid who intends to try her luck in a series boat.
European melting pot
Four Spanish navigators, three Swiss and three Belgians, a Hungarian, an Estonian, a Brit, one German and one Dutch - Europe is present in all its diversity. Hungary’s Aron Meder, is an old hand at offshore racing and has already sailed around the world on a lake boat of less than six meters. The Dutchman Robert Rosen Jacobson is a repeat offender. This particularly active retired 62 year old already has several Mini Transat under his keel. He is best known for never letting up, sometimes pushing his boats beyond their reasonable limits.
British entrant Pip Hare chose to base herself at the Mediterranean Training Centre in La Grande Motte. Among the Spanish navigators, Bruno Garcia is also a familiar face. A cardiologist in Barcelona, sailing provides an opportunity to escape his high pressure professional life. His last major outting was the Barcelona World Race with Jean Le Cam, from which they had to retire. Three Swiss will start including Simon Koster and Justine Mettraux. Over the past two years both have demonstrated their abilities and climbed steadily to the forefront. It is no coincidence that they are respectively the third and second places in the 2013 ranking of series boats.
One thing is certain: among both the both prototype and the series boats the foreign skippers are not there just to serve as a foil to the fifty-seven navigators from France. This is again evidence of the excellent health of the Mini Transat.
The course 2013: returns to its origins
Leg one - Douarnenez to Arrecife (Lanzarote): 1200 miles.
Leg two - Arrecife to Pointe a Pitre: 2800 miles.
Prologue 'Tout commence en Finistère' October 6, 2013.
Start from Douarnenez October 13, 2013 at 13h. Arrival in the Canary Islands between 23 and 26 October 2013.
Start from Canary Islands November 9, 2013. Arrival in Guadeloupe between 23 and 30 November 2013.
Douarnenez Courses: organizer of the Mini Transat 2013 and 2015
All associations have mobilized Douarnenez with the support of local and regional authorities under the aegis of Douarnenez Courses: the yacht clubs, Douarnenez and Société des Régates de Douarnenez, the Winches club organizers for many years of Mini races with the Mini Fastnet and Trophy Marie-Agnès Péron as torchbearers, but also the association of the Fêtes Maritimes, the Atlantic Yacht Club, the Fédération Maritime and others who are preparing for fifteen days prior to departure, a festival celebrating the sea and the sailors. Competitors will be welcomed into the Port-Rhu a real jewel in the heart of the city.
Mini Transat website