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Classe Mini 2021: Overcoming obstacles for a successful season

by Robin Clegg 20 Dec 2021 06:21 PST
Classe Mini 2021: Overcoming obstacles for a successful season © Christophe Breschi

Classe Mini president Jean Lorre has hailed the last season as "positive" for the 6.50 boat class, despite a number of obstacles.

At the prize-giving for the Mini-Transat Eurochef and the French Solo Offshore Racing Championship at the Salon Nautique in Paris, the outgoing president spoke about overcoming adversity and future plans.

What is your assessment of this year for Classe Mini?

It has been a really good season for several reasons. Like many other sporting events, the pandemic certainly complicated our plans but working with the French Sailing Federation, the maritime authorities and race organisers, we managed to complete a full race calendar. We were all driven by the same passion for the Mini and with incredible support and energy from the sailors and volunteers, we adapted to the challenges and found solutions.

Given those challenges, it was remarkable that we exceeded the previous record for the number of race nautical miles the boats could potentially complete over the course of the season. With 375 boats taking part in at least one of the 15 races, the skippers covered 590,000 nm in total, the equivalent of nearly 25 Vendée Globes!

It was a great achievement that 84 boats [out of 90] crossed the finish line of the Mini Transat Eurochef in Guadeloupe. There were many twists and turns before and during the crossing the sailors had to deal with; a pandemic, Orca attacks, a volcanic eruption in the Canaries and challenging weather.

The podium finishes for the season shows the diversity with three different boats, a Maxi, Vector and Pogo3, coming out on top in the production class. In the prototype class, some of the favorites such as Pierre Le Roy, Fabio Muzzolini finished well as did Tanguy Bouroullec in third place.

Why does the Classe Mini remain so popular?

The Mini 6.50 is a right of passage for so many sailors who want to gain experience and "pass their Mini first" before graduating to bigger boats, if that's their chosen path. The competitors, despite differing levels of experience and background, are a tight knit group who grow in so many ways through their Mini journey. I joined the Board of Directors after being overwhelmed by the experiences I had in the Mini Transat. I really wanted to help others make the most of this incredible opportunity. I think that's what drives board members to promote this indefinable Mini spirit.

What changes are we going to see next season?

The board has been working hard to explore ways we can keep costs down and reduce our environmental impact and this has been agreed by a members vote at the general assembly held at the Salon Nautique.

We are cutting the number of sails the boats can use during the season from seven to six and the production boats jibs will have to be made of more durable materials to increase their longevity, reduce waste and costs over time. In consultation with the sailors, we have decided to limit the type of electronics that can be installed on the boats. There are some expensive pieces of kit that can have a significant impact on performance but our philosophy is very much to keep things simple, easy and affordable.

We've also made some additions to the 2022 race calendar which begins with the Mini Golfe in early March. There are going to be 20 races, in total, with nine taking place in the Mediterranean Sea and there will now be a third stage of the Calvados Cup. We're also introducing the SoloMed, a loop taking the boats from Barcelona to Morocco.

It's been an honour to have led the class but I am stepping down from my role and members will meet in January to elect their new President, Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary.

2021 Classe Mini in numbers:

  • 462 members with 12% female competitors
  • 130 new members
  • 22 nationalities represented (66% French)
  • 21 new boats in 2021: 17 production and 4 prototypes
  • 15 races covering 9,152 nm
  • 81 former Mini skippers took part in at least one sailing race in the Class40, Imoca, Ocean Fifty or Ultim classes this year

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