Aussie Ellen answerAustralian yachtswomen and Amer Sports Too bowman Liz Wardley has confirmed that she will be taking part in the Mini Transat in 2003. This singlehanded race will run from La Rochelle to Salvador, Brazil, 4400 nautical miles away.
Wardley at just 22 years of age already has an impressive list of sailing achievements behind her, including the Volvo Ocean Race, four Sydney-Hobart races and many other regattas. Earlier this year she won a two handed race in the Mini class.
Liz says that taking on the Atlantic alone both excites and scares her. “The Mini Transat is a popular, established event with 70 starters last time. It is very competitive and regarded as an essential training ground for sailors who want to progress to racing solo around the world in events like The Vendee Globe.
“The Mini Transat is a test of organisational ability (solo sailors do not have large support crews) stamina, endurance and sailing ability. It is also a great adventure, but first it is a race and I am determined to do well.
Liz is building her yacht in Auckland alongside New Zealand solo sailor Chris Sayer, whose Mini was destroyed earlier this year. “My yacht is a sister ship to the one Chris is building. We are working closely together and I am getting a tremendous amount of help from Chris and people at the yard, Vaudrey Millar yachts including Craig Faucett, Warren Vaudrey and Simon Millar.
“I am working on the boat myself to keep costs down, but I am paying a boat builder to make sure everything is done properly. My living expenses are minimal because I have persuaded a friend to let me live in her garage and I’m commuting to the boatyard every day in a $400 car.
Liz will train and test equipment and systems and develop sails out of Auckland to get the maximum out of the yacht. Construction started in September and Liz hopes for a launch date towards the end of February.
From that time Liz will spend as much time training and racing as possible. She will compete in the Auckland-Fiji race starting in May next year, before sailing solo to Sydney where she will complete preparations before shipping the yacht to Europe.
Liz is a seasoned short-handed sailor. She has logged more than 65,000 nautical miles on many different yachts as skipper, watch captain or bowman. She has twice skippered entries in the Sydney-Hobart race and 1998 she won the two-handed Sydney - Lord Howe race on both line and handicap. In 1999 she was skipper in the double-handed Melbourne-Osaka.
Liz says she sees the Mini Transat as a personal challenge as well as a yacht race. “I believe if you want something badly enough you have to go for it. Many people think I am mad, but those who know me well are certain I will succeed. I’m risking everything I have for this event, but I hope to get some sponsorship and support from Australian businesses.”