Simon Curwen

James Boyd profiles an unusual Mini-Transat competitor
If one were a betting man then the safe money for a top British place in the Transat 6.50 Charente-Maritime Bahia (better known as the Mini Transat) would be on professional sailors such as former PlayStation helmsman Brian Thompson or Olympic/round the world sailor Sam Davies. It therefore comes as some surprise that the leading British skipper in the Mini Transat is a amateur whose most recent sailing has been with his family on a Sigma 33. While the divide between professional and amateur singlehanded offshore racing grows ever wider, the Mini is almost unique in today’s busy yachting calendar in catering for both schools. 42 year old father of three, Simon Curwen most definitely falls in the latter camp. Curwen runs his own environmental consultancy QDS from Guildford. He says that the Mini has been an event that has occupied his mind for some years, but only now has the time become right for him to take part. "I've followed the Mini for a long time, but there hasn't been an opportunity because of the kids and living overseas," he says. There is also the age issue and wanting to be around over the next few years while his children are taking their exams. "I’m not getting any younger and I feel it’s the right time." For Curwen the attraction of the Mini Transat is obviously the challenge: to race a high performance 21 footer singlehanded across the Atlantic. But he says there are other reasons as well. "The boat is fantastic. It is an absolute joy to sail. Also the challenge of the course has great appeal. The final thing is the community of the Classe Mini and its spirit." Although the class remains predominantly French, there are competitors from the States and other countries in Europe, including many