Minis head for the Fastnet

First British Mini event attracts 17 starters

Sunday August 5th 2007, Author: Robin Price, Location: United Kingdom
Today saw the start of what could become one of the UK’s largest international fleet racing events. The UK Fastnet 6.50, for doublehanded Classe Mini boats, the largest offshore fleet in the world, set off from Plymouth Sound at 12.00pm in near perfect conditions. The sun, which this summer has been somewhat illusive managed to shine, and the 6 -8 knot southwesterly breeze which could have been a couple of knots more, both came in on cue to make for a great spectacle in the Sound.

With the early southwesterly breeze, it was decided to place the start line under Jennycliff, two thirds of the way into the Sound, and instead of bringing the boats back in towards the Hoe, the preferred option for the land-based spectators, a windward marker was laid near the western approach which pleased the massive flotilla of spectator craft which had taken to the water early to mingle with the Minis.
 
As the wind shifted further south shortly before the start, it was looking unlikely for a port tack off the line, but the majority of the fleet took this option and as they all converged near the end of the breakwater, it was the four starboard boys who had taken the better option and were marginally in the lead as they set sail for the Scillies.
 
To put the race on the Mini calendar, there was a tester race last year when only four boats made the start line, but since then,  realising the course was just right for the class, it has been officially sanctioned by the French governing authority and this year it’s a truly international event. From the UK to the USA and Europe to Australia take up for the UK Fastnet 6.50 has been impressive and could become a major international fixture.
 
Out of the 24 registered entries, 17 of the speed pocket rockets, as  they are known in the sailing world, made it to the start line. Race Director, Chris Arscott, said: “It was a fantastic start and most importantly, the French organising body for the Classe Mini who were present were impressed with the smooth running and the quality of the event. So it will definitely be returning next year when we will be moving the date forward to the end of May and we could easily see more than double the numbers on the start line.”
 
This popular class of 21 foot open boat has over the years launched the careers of many well known single-handed sailor, including Ellen MacArthur, and since the Royal Western Yacht Club is best known as the originator of singlehanded ocean racing and the organiser of internationally respected single and two-handed races they, with sponsorship from Chris Parsonage Offshore Racing for this event, were well placed to bring the class back to the UK.
 
The Mini class has its origins in the West Country. Originally conceived by Plymouth-based Bob Salmon, the first three Mini Transats were started from Penzance before the race was taken on permanently by the French.

The course for the UK Fastnet 6.50 will see the boats heading for the Isles of Scilly overnight before turning the corner up towards the southwest tip of Ireland where they round the Fastnet Rock. They then retrace trace their steps back to Plymouth. The 500 mile course is expected to be completed inside four days so the whole fleet should be back in Plymouth for the prize giving ceremony at the Royal Western YC this Thursday evening.

Entries:

Sail Number  Boat Name  Helm 
29 UBAYE  Matthew Keele
158 AUTOGRAPH  Hugh MacGregor
228 EDONIS  Francois Champion
265 VECTEUR PLUS  Aloys Claquin
280 ALAKALUF  Gael Deheneffe
332 GENASUN  Alex MeVay
393 THE TOM CREAN  Thorsten Junge
440 RATTLE AND HUM  Carol Sear
515 BOERO YACHT PAINT  Vincent Gaudin
537 BICKWICK  Tristan Pouliquen
602 NAUTI POGO  Nicholas Affleck
617 VIDA POURA DEMI CLE  Damien Guillou
659 MAD SPANIEL  Geoffrey Dumiam
625 LA LIGUE CONTRE LE CANCER  Nicolas Charmet
670 PHOENIX RACING  Andy Abel
574 WOMBAT  Tom Braidwood
601 SAMBA  Thomas Valentin
221 MOONFLEET  Luca Zoccoli
477 ZOT'CHE  Anne Dupureur
432 FIDELIA ASSISTANCE  Xavier Haize
657 TEAM CNTL  Gregory Burte
7329 PIMENTO  G Leicester- Thackara
504 MANU POKI  Mathis Prochasson
672 PHOENIX  Alexandre Scrizzi

More photos on the following pages...

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