Know the Ropes


The Race Mini 6.50

I decided to go outside my box and look into the wild world of transatlantic yacht racing.  I started researching America’s Cup and was sidetracked when I found the Mini Transat 6.50.  This event is considered to be one of the most EXTREME sailboat racing events in the world.

The Race ran for the 1st time in 1977. It was developed to promote affordable SOLO offshore racing and it runs every two years. It will commence again on September 22, 2019.

This approximately 4500-mile run is sailed in two legs. The first leg, from La Rochelle, France to the Canary Islands is about 1350 miles long and takes 7 to 10 days.  The 2nd leg is about 2700 miles long and starts from the Canary Islands in early November. This perilous transatlantic journey takes about 15 to 20 sailing days and ends in the Caribbean on the island of Martinique. This race is no joke, it is all done WITHOUT computer navigation.


There are two divisions of racing yachts: production, and prototypes. Both divisions require Minis to be self-righting when capsized. Here are the specs the vessel:

The Mini 6.50 ‘s are very short and beamy; this design enables the craft to plane at speeds of around 25 Knots (28 MPH). The production boat uses approved designs. The prototype division is a little more flexible concerning dimensions, such as keel depth and mast height, and it allows for advanced technology such as canting keels.  The prototype class designs are faster than the production design and are considered “test beds” for mechanisms to be used on bigger and more expensive open classes of yachts.

The Sailor

The Sailor has several qualifying races to run before they are eligible to register for Mini Transat 6.50.  Organizers are very concerned about the experience and the safety of the participants. The sailors are an eclectic group.  Currently, they number 54 men and women from all over the world.  The majority are French. I checked out the registered Qualified Skippers on the official website for the race.   You can pick your favorite and follow the skipper throughout the race via this website.

The sailors are constantly moving and normally only sleep periods of 15 to 20 minutes intervals while the boat is set to autopilot. These boats are small (hence the name MINI) and preparing meals, studying navigation, weather forecasts, and strategy while having a rest from time to time, is taxing. They are confronted with the forces of nature and are frequently dealing with unfavorable weather conditions.  It is both physically and emotionally draining.

After reviewing the bio’s of these exceptional Skippers, I  noticed there were no Americans in the race. So I GTS’d it (Google That Shit) and found one from a few years ago, Jeffrey MacFarlane.


Jeffrey Macfarlane raced in 2013. During a 1000 mile qualifying race off the coast of Spain, there was a dismasting on his boat which resulted in him being airlifted to the hospital where it was determined he broke several bones in his left hand.  But, he did not quit.

Regulations mandate sailors qualify for and race in the same boat. Because MacFarlane’s qualified vessel was damaged after the dismasting, he had to charter a boat and sail an additional 1,000 miles to re-qualify that vessel for the race.  He did it within five months before the start. Wow!  He finished the race.

The Prize

You would think there would be pots of gold at the end of this race but, there are no monetary prizes for winning the Mini Transat 6.50. (Hopefully, they all get a t-shirt).  The race completion is seen as a personal or national victory.

Preserving our Environment

1% for the planet includes more than 1200 companies in 48 countries, which have donated more than $100 million. The 1% For the Planet brings together 119 member companies in France that have decided to unite their efforts to preserve the planet’s resources.

The Mini Transat 6.50 2019 is committed to the environment, and more specifically the oceans, our playground, by joining the 1% for the planet, in particular by collaborating with  Surfrider Foundation and ECOLE de la Mer, which have been fighting for years to preserve the quality of the oceans and coasts by raising awareness, particularly among the younger generations.


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