Mini Transat contender

British solo offshore racer Ollie Bond updates us on his plans and the Mini class in 2009
Hurrah! 2009 is a Mini Transat year (one of our favourite events) when an enormous fleet of 21ft long pocket-sized Open 60s, divided in Proto (one-offs) and Series (production boats) classes, are sailed singlehanded across the Atlantic. In fact with the changes made to the class, from now on every year is to be a Mini Transat year. Due to the biennial event perpetually being oversubscribed, with usually 120 boats fighting to get on the entry list for the 70-80 places available, finally after a decade of pondering the class has at last chosen to run the event annually. So in September this year, the Transat 6.50 Charente Maritime-Bahia (as the event is officially called) will run on its typical course from La Rochelle to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil via a stop in Madeira, while the event next year and onward for every ‘even numbered’ year will run from Douarnanez to Kourou, French Guyana, also via Madiera. The former is organised by the Grand Pavois, who’s main occupation is staging the boat show in La Rochelle, while the latter is organised by Winches Club, the same people who run the biennial doublehanded Mini Fastnet (starting on 13 June this year) and the shorter Trophee Agnes Peron warm-up before it. After strong British representation over the last 12 years including the likes of Ellen MacArthur and Mark Turner, Alex Bennett, Sam Davies, Brian Thompson, Simon Curwen, Paul Peggs, Nick Bubb and Phil Sharp (forgive us for missing a few others) for some reason the number of British competitors in this phenomenal class has been dropping off recently. At present the strongest entry and a potential winner of the Transat is Ollie Bond. Impressively Bond podiumed in every race he did last year, including the arduous Les Sables-Azores-Les Sables. This will be