For the first time in the USA, a group of singlehanded sailors from all over the country got ready to race from California to Hawaii aboard Mini-Transat boats – 21-foot ocean capable racers that are barely larger than the average suburban vehicle. The Mini 650 Pacific Challenge was held in July of 2013.
“Mini” is short for “Mini Transat 6.50?. Each Mini (there are a variety of different make and models) is designed according to strict box rules. The boat cannot be longer than 21.3 feet (6.50 meters) and can’t be wider than 9.84 feet (3 meters). There are restrictions for mast height, draft, shape of cabin-top, size of companionway, and also safety constraints such as positive flotation, righting moment and escape hatch to name a few.
Mini architects and builders have created boats that are extremely light, fast, powerful yet stable and safe, even in the most extreme offshore conditions. With the innovations developed for this class, these designers have influenced an entire industry. Open 60s, Volvo 70s on down to production cruising boats have all taking a page or two from the Mini playbook.
Racing offshore with a crew is plenty challenging but now imagine racing offshore singlehanded in a boat this small. Boats have to meet safety requirements and sailors must prove that they can indeed spend 15-20 days alone at sea. Each racer will have to sail a 400nm qualifier, this will be no laid back cruise – for most of the entrants it’ll be more like a hike up Mount Everest. Some of the world’s most notable and legendary offshore sailors including Ellen MacArthur, Sam Davies and Michel Desjoyeaux have cut their teeth aboard these tough little vessels.
The Minis, being very equal in boat speed, gives the Mini 650 Pacific Challenge the excitement of an inshore one-design race combined with the jeopardy of a round the world contest.
Sean Mc Ginn wins 2013 Mini 650 Pacific Challenge
Sean McGinn sailed Daisy Cutter, his Mini TransAt 6.50, and became the first ever winner of the Mini 650 Pacific Challenge. He has been at sea, sailing singlehanded, for 17 days, 1 hour, 20 minutes, and 58 seconds.