Completing the Mini Transat

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Lizzy Foreman successfully completed the Mini Transat, crossing the Atlantic solo. Here Lizzy gives an insight into the race and her plans for 2016.

Racing across the Atlantic was another game entirely compared to a short three day coastal race. I was trusting the boat with my life; one mistake and I could fall overboard, break the mast or damage the electronics.

I had spent an entire month refitting the boat especially for the race with new rudders, electronics, ropes – putting on as much new equipment as possible.

Having ripped all three of my spinnakers early on in the crossing, I ended up sailing the majority of the race under gennaker, despite numerous repairs. Consequently I was at sea for eighteen days, but I loved every moment.

THE ROUTINE

I ended up with quite a regular routine onboard, living in UTC time, which meant I ate meals regularly, spoke on the VHF at 0600 and 1800 every day to relay my position to any boats close by and took the weather forecast at 1200 every day via the SSB radio

I started to learn the pattern of the wind shifts, so I would spend the mornings on starboard tack, gybing onto port when the wind became more easterly, gybing back to starboard in the evening.

TAKING ON THE WEATHER

The most stressful times were always when the squalls came, like a stampede of wild animals.

The rain would fall, softly at first, then hammering down and the boat could be over on its side in moments, leaving me clinging for dear life to the guard rails. I quickly learnt to drop and lash down sails just in time.

The most exciting moments of the race were always when a competitor burst onto my AIS screen or the radio would crackle with some inaudible French. Just knowing there was actually somebody else out there would be enough to remind you that you are in a race, let alone sailing solo across the Atlantic.

Respite from the sun and wind was difficult to find. I suffered heat stroke, ‘nappy rash’ and quickly got fed up with salt encrusted clothes. When your only comforts are finding a dry loo roll or a second stash of tea bags, life takes on a much simpler quality.

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TOP TIPS

Thinking about crossing the Atlantic? I’d offer these five tips:

  1. Know your boat – inside and out. Take plenty of spares
  2. Know yourself – physical and mental limits, strengths and weaknesses
  3. Study the weather patterns before you go, try to understand the situation at sea
  4. keep a regular log book – not only useful for your navigation, but also your sanity
  5. Take a few treats – music and a book were my lifesavers on this crossing (the same 48 hour playlist on repeat!)

I absolutely love Mini sailing and truly believe it the best place to learn about offshore sailing.

I am determined to be back in 2016 for the Les Sables – Azores – Les Sables race and the 2017 Transat with a faster and more technical boat and after I would love to race the 2018 Route du Rhum.

You can read more about my Mini Transat experience on www.lizzyracing.com and also watch some videos from the race.