Let the race begin!

Last week began with a morning at Spinlock learning about their range of products, from lifejackets to clutches and looking into lifejacket design and the reasoning behind all of the Spinlock deck vest features. Spinlock have recently announced a new design to update the existing XAS clutch that will be released in about a year. This new clutch allows you to take it apart without removing it from the deck, ideal for use on a Mini as Lizzy discovered. It is a bit of a mission to take our current halyard clutches off, you have to remove the coach roof!

Talking through the various clutch types and their properties, mechanisms and loading limits was fascinating. It also made me realise how important it is to take apart and clean your clutches. The majority of clutch failures are due to lack of maintenance, as the accumulation of gunk in the bottom of the clutch can obstruct movement of the mechanism and stop the cam from closing properly.

The rest of the week consisted of admin work, with a mix of scheduling, budgeting and a bit of website work (coming soon)! Unlike the Figaro, the Mini has a very flexible programme within the Academy. It is down to me to organise my programme for the year and work out all of the logistics.

In order to qualify for the Mini Transat 2013 starting in October, I need to complete a 1000nm solo qualifier as well as 1000nm of official Mini races, one of which has to be over 500nm and one has to be solo. This vigorous qualifying procedure has been put in place since the 1999 Mini Transat when about half of the fleet gave up and many beacons were activated.

The Transat is very popular and with only 80 places available, it is a race just to qualify and get a place. Rules say you have to complete one race within the year of the Transat (although it doesn’t have to count for your qualification). As long as you’re using the same boat and no dramatic changes have been made to the design or set up your, qualifying passage and other races can be completed previously.

Entry opens for the Transat at the Paris boat show on 8th December and shortly afterwards the list of entrants will be published. From then I will be able gauge the places available. I imagine the list will be full from day one of people who have already qualified! From the list there is then a waiting list for applicants and places will be given as they become available. Having just joined the Academy and taken over the Artemis Mini 438, I have no miles to my name. So for me next year will be a race to qualify and get as high up the waiting list as possible, then just wait and hope for a place on the starting line.

Let the race begin…