The scow Mini

James Boyd Photography /
We speak to David Raison about his unique Proto design
Over recent years the complexion of Classe Mini racing has changed. As ever there remains the 50-50 divide between the ‘Proto’ class, for the full-on one-off race boats, and the ‘Series’ class for the slightly less extreme one-designs, but increasingly hot competition among the Series class Pogo 2s has resulted in the Series class no longer being viewed as the poor cousin of the Proto elite. Meanwhile there has been a slight downturn in interest in the Protos and wading through the latest entry list for this September’s Charente Maritime-Bahia Transat 6.50 (aka the Mini Transat) – as ever oversubscribed for its 72 available places - we can only find three new Protos built over this two year cycle. Due to escalating costs and the bar being continually raised, so new Protos are by no means as prolific as they once were and sadly this has also reduced the opportunity for young yacht designers to use these radical 21 footers as a test bed for new ideas. Once upon a time you could wander along the dock prior to the start of the Mini Transat and you would come across wild-eyed inventors who were trying radical new ways of canting their boat’s rig or its keel. Among them in 1991 for example was one Michel Desjoyeaux who entered the first offshore boat to feature a canting keel (adopted two years later for the first time in the Open 60 class on Isabelle Autissier’s Ecureuil Poitou Charentes II subsequently de facto in the IMOCA 60 class, then the VO70s and offshore maxis) and the class’ now familiar articulating bowsprit. If the Proto class is generally losing its innovative spirit, then bucking this trend is long term Mini sailor and designer David Raison. After a few years in the Figaro, Raison has returned to