Ocean race for midgets


Today 60 21ft ocean going skiffs will set off across the Atlantic from France to Brazil
What is the Mini Transat? Defying all manner of attempts to get itself banned in legislation heavy France, the Mini Transat is an utterly unique event in the yachting calendar. The event was created by Bob Salmon and first run from Penzance in 1977. Having witnessed the start of the 1976 Observer Singlehanded TransAtlantic Race (OSTAR), which at the time had no maximum length restriction and so included giants such as Alain Colas' 236ft four master Club Mediterranee, Salmon was intent on the idea of racing a boat across the Atlantic singlehanded, but could not afford one of the size considered the minimum by the OSTAR's organisers, the Royal Western Yacht Club. So the Mini Transat was born, as a rogue offshoot of the OSTAR in which there was just one rule - maximum size of the boats could be no greater than 21ft. Early races race from Penzance to Antigua, but in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the beginning of the French revolution in offshore racing was taking place spurred on by Eric Tabarly and a number of French sailing heroes. At this time there were many starry-eyed young French skippers who wanted to emulate the exploits of their heroes. Many went on to become great sailing legends in their own right in later years. Current French stars who have done well in the Mini Transat include Vendee Globe veterans Jean-Luc van den Heede (1977 and 1979), Isabelle Autissier (1987), Yves Parlier (winner in 1985), Michel Desjoyeaux (1991) and Thierry Dubois (winner in 1993), multihull sailors such as Bruno Peyron (1977), Loick Peyron (1979) and Laurent (1987) and Yvan Bourgnon (winner 1995) and Marc Guillemot (1989), even Whitbread winner Lionel Pean (1979). It has also been responsible for launching several careers in solo sailing for British sailors most notably Ellen MacArthur (1997),

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