Minis to race to Portsmouth70 Minis will be racing into Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth Harbour on 22 May at the end of a gruelling new race known as the Mini Pavois, starting from La Rochelle on this Saturday (19 May).
This is the first event in the French Classe Mini calendar to come to the UK in many years. Even though the class originated in the UK it has been dominated for the last two decades by the French and many top stars such as the Bourgnon brothers, Isabelle Autissier and Yves Parlier have passed through its ranks. The Berkeley Group and Land Securities' newly opened £150 million retail, restaurant and leisure waterfront will be a fitting venue to host the return of this exciting class.
The single-handed sailors are racing against each other in order to qualify for the bi-annual Mini Transat. This year's Mini Transat starts from La Rochelle on 22 September, stops in Lanzarote in the Canaries before finishing at Salvador de Bahia in Brazil (this is the first occasion the race will go to Brazil - traditionally it has always been Antigua or the French Caribbean). It was in the Mini Transat four years ago that Ellen MacArthur cut her teeth in her first major international sailing event.
The 70 sailors and their tiny 21ft ocean going skiffs should start arriving in Portsmouth in the early hours of 22 May. On their arrival, the boats will be berthed all together at Gunwharf Quays and will make a colourful spectacle for those visiting the waterfront. The exhausted crews will be accommodated ashore to rest for a few days before they set off again on 25 May on the second leg to Saint Quay-Portrieux on the north coast of France.
Several British sailors are planning to take part including Paul Peggs, Sam Davies and Ian Munslow.
The start and finish of the race will be handled by the Old Portsmouth-based Royal Naval Club and Royal Albert Yacht Club and, weather permitting, the start and finish line will be off Southsea sea front, allowing everyone a grand view of the fleet.