Thursday, July 07, 2011


Bruce Gailey, member of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and a transplanted Canadian lawyer working in Switzerland has made the final cut and will be sailing this year’s edition of the Mini Transat - a single-handed ocean race on a 21 ft boat from France to Brazil.
A few days ago Bruce wrote this on his blog:
“Today the organisers and the Classe Mini announced that they have added 12 places. As there were 12 of us on the waiting list we are now all IN! So my status has changed from “hoping to race” to “got to prepare”. There is a lot of work ahead, and just thinking about it is intimidating.”
Qualifying for the Mini- Transat is no small accomplishment. It requires completion of a 1000 nautical mile qualification sail (not a race) with all sorts of navigation tasks to perform along the way, including taking photos of various marks rounded and use of a sextant for navigation. In addition to this each skipper must also complete 1000 nautical miles in a combination of approved races in Europe. By the time one qualifies, they are an accomplished yachtsman and have to be pretty comfortable with keeping their own company. Bruce is one of a very few Canadians who have ever participated in this race. Perhaps the first. There was one other Canadian in the running to qualify this year. Nathan Baron of Kingston, Ontario had his hopes of competing in the Mini-Trasnat dashed by a total navigational equipment failure and extremely rough weather in the last qualification race in June.
Nathan wrote about the final qualifier shortly after retiring form the race and seeking shelter in Lorient:
“the wind kept increasing and the sea was getting very rough we started having trouble with the instruments. Every time we went off a wave we had connection failures and the NKE [the navigation system] went offline. Not a big deal to sail without instruments, but I spent a lot of time trying to fix things.
The sea kept increasing and our boatspeed was very bad, 4.5-5 knots with three reefs in the main and 1 reef in the solent. We were still overpowered and if we reduced sail any more the boat would be standing still. With no weather information or comms with other boats we started to get worried. Sam [his crew in this qualifier which was a double handed event] was a sailing/cruising instructor in north Brittany and he was also getting worried about the sea state on the approach to Isle de Sein. [a treacherous coastline especially sailing blind in the dark] This can be a very rough place and the weather was perfect for very bad seas to develop. The decision to turn to Lorient was not taken lightly. We both knew that it meant my Transat was done.”
Hopefully Nathan will get another chance to fulfill his dream of competing in the Mini Transat. It is certainly no small achievement just to qualify let alone complete the grueling marathon from France to Brazil in a 21 foot boat. Bruce is now chin deep in preparations. The list is long and there is never enough time as one will only know if preparation was adequate after the race. Whatever the end result, congratulations to Bruce in qualifying and best of luck for the race!
For people wanting to follow Bruce Gailey in the Mini Transat here is the link to his blog.
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