And here it is Entry List……… The official list of entries to the 2011 mini transat and YES I am on it. One of the only two current British entries on the list.
However like all things worth doing, it is not that simple. There is a small matter of qualification.
In 1999 the mini transat hit a patch of bad weather, the results where pretty harsh with half the fleet retiring and a lot of distress beacons being set off.
Following this incident the FFV (French governing body for sailing) asked class mini to review its qualification process for the transat race.
They decided to make it pretty difficult to qualify for the transat to ensure that everybody entered had a very strong chance of finishing the race and also really wanted to be there.
The criteria this year are as follows
1000 miles sailed solo, around a specified course before 1st June 2011 – one course in the Med one in the Atlantic
1000 miles sailed in races at least one race must be solo, and one race must have a leg over 500 miles. These races must be built up to; short races must be finished before you are allowed to participate in a longer one.
Only once these criteria are met may you take part in the transat.
That is a lot of miles but the system works; in the last transat in 2009 out of 85 starters, only 8 did not finish.
Personally I think the system is a great idea, it shows commitment and also gives people a chance to back out before the race start if they have a change of heart.
Solo racing is an odd sport, until you have been alone in an ocean and experienced the great excitement and pleasure then hit absolute rock bottom all on your own, then I do not think it is possible to know yourself if you will like it or have the aptitude to survive your problems alone.
The mini class really is about sailing alone; there are no phones, no internet, no computers, you navigate using your brain and predict the weather by looking around you.
There are more than a few sailors who start out with the intention of a ‘transat’ and discover after a few races and a couple of bad nights alone it is not for them.
I will be starting my 1000 mile qualifying passage at the beginning of March and am not going into it lightly.
I have the confidence that I will be able to cope with the solitude, I have sailed over 10,000 miles alone to date and believe I know my self quite well.
But this boat is different, it is small, uncomfortable, strong, capable of violence, wet and there is no toilet!
I am looking forward to a mixed bag of emotions, hurtling down waves, steering and laughing because it is such a thrill to be sailing so fast.
Cold and wet, in the middle of the night, so tired it is an effort to put another layer on to stay warm, relentlessly pounding into a sea that is trying to stop me from making ground.
Learning every hour a little more about my boat and about myself; getting it badly wrong but then getting it right next time.
On the qualifying passage we are allowed to take computers and phones so providing I don’t get it all too wet I will be sharing my experiences with you with daily blogs.
So take your foul weather gear out of the wardrobe, get in a good supply of chocolate and make sure there is plenty of tea around. Next week, we are going sailing!