The next Mini cycle

British competitor Oliver Bond updates us on his campaign and the latest from the class
Since we blackmailed Mark Turner into competing in the Mini Transat in 1997, ultimately dragging Ellen MacArthur along with him, a steady stream of British competitors have passed through the ranks of shorthanded offshore racing’s most diminutive class – Sam Davies, Brian Thompson, Paul Peggs, Simon Curwen, Nick Bubb, Phil Sharp culminating in last year’s Transat 6.50 Charente-Maritime/Bahia with Andrew Wood and David Rawlinson (read about them here). 11 years on and the complexion of the Mini class has altered slightly. Of course there remains the impressive challenge of racing shorthanded what is effectively a one third scale Open 60, but a boat otherwise little larger than a dinghy, offshore and occasionally transoceanic. The fleet as ever remains divided in two between the Protos (one-offs) and Series (one designs), where the former continues to be a hotbed of technology (it was here for example that canting keels for offshore race boats was spawned many years ago) with many of the new developments filtering through to other areas of our sport. However inevitably the Proto class has seen costs rise and now a full-on campaign typically costs around 300,000 Euros, split pretty evenly between the price of a new boat and campaign costs. For this reason, not surprisingly, new boats are becoming increasingly few, those new to the Mini finding the Series class increasingly appealing. While both David Rawlinson and Andrew Wood were last year sailing fairly ancient Protos, Oliver Bond and Nick Affleck, the two most active British Mini sailors this year, both of whom were also competing on the circuit sporadically last year, both are in the Series class aboard Groupe Finot-designed Pogo 2s. Olivier Bond’s Base Camp is in fact the boat Ecover skipper, Belgium’s Peter Laureyssens sailed to victory in the series class in 2005. Bond, 28, has