Douarnenez (Brittany, France) > Lanzarote (Canaries) > Guadeloupe (Caribbean)
Dates of each leg
Prologue: Douarnenez: 13th September (sponsors invited)
Start: 19th September, 1300 hr (French time)
1st arrival in the Canaries (Lanzarote): 27th September
Depart the Canaries (Lanzarote): 31st October, 1200 hr (local time)
Estimated finish in Guadeloupe: 14th November (for the prototypes, the faster boats).
Leg 1: 1250 nm
Leg 2: 2770 nm
Total: 4020 nm
I am the only British sailor and the only woman racing in the Production Class.
How many are there in your class?
How many classes do the Race?
The entry limit is 84 boats, split between the Production (Series) and Prototypes.
Series are ‘one-design’, Prototypes are more one-offs.
Is it predominantly French (so it makes you a special focus to be racing and ranked amongst these racers?)
Yes it is mostly French – 17 so far in my class but also a few from Italy, Portugal, Switzerland and Belgium.
Why do you choose to sail solo?
For the adventure, the challenge, the freedom… racing solo is very different to fully crewed sailing. You have nobody to blame, nobody to argue or discuss with, nobody to do the cooking for you… yes, it can be lonely, but this makes the lead up and finish to races very special. Classe Mini is renowned for being a friendly and supportive class – in no other type of racing have I eaten every evening with all the other competitors!
For me the first goal is to finish!
By the time I get to the start line, it will be the culmination of two seasons of hard work preparing the boat and ultimately 5 years since I first began my quest to sail solo.
To get the funding, resources and opportunities together to do this race has taken an immense amount of commitment, hard work and dedication – nobody in my family is a ‘yachtie’. I first got to grips with yacht racing through the British Keelboat Academy and later the Artemis Offshore Academy – I have always had to push and prove myself to get to where I want to be.
By the start of the race my boat will be nearly 10 years old, with a number of new builds on the race track – e.g. this year the Ofcet, Pogo 3 and Ska 6.50 are all hoping to be confirmed Series entries (10 new boats are required to become a ‘series’ entry, otherwise they will race in the prototype class), while boats 2-3 years old include the Argo, Nacra and RG 6.50.
The top guys in the fleet will already have 2-3 Transats under their belts.
I am really working hard for a top 10 finish and first Brit and first woman.
How much dried food – packets – do you take with you?
A mix of freeze dried and boil in the bag – 42 packets.
In the Azores Race in 2014 I took far too many packets of food- I had actually eaten a lot more flapjack, tins of tuna and French toast and soups than meals!
I will aim to eat 2 packet meals a day, with instant porridge for breakfast.
At midnight I like a small meal / snack – big flapjack or cuppa soup.
Snacks wise, I will try to eat some fresh or tinned fruit.
How much fresh food – favourites?
Hard to take fresh food. I will set off with a couple of bread rolls, ham and cheese, apples and oranges.
Waitrose Filter coffee, chocolate coated raisins, apples – nuts are good too.
Litres of water or watermaker
I carry water in 10L jerry cans.
I have three.
One that is permanently attached to the rudders and two spares including the new Pelagic AutoPilot.
from the USA which I’m very keen to try out.
Number of sails
Seven – a mainsail, jib, storm jib, a gennaker and 3 spinnakers.
I even made them myself with the support of Solosails.
Do you have an engine in case of emergency?
No! We are towed in and out of harbour by a RIB when racing.
When training or doing a delivery, I use a Torqeedo Travel 1003 – an excellent electric engine, which I charge up onboard using a solar panel.
Do you have a radio in case of emergency?
Yes, this is compulsory. Usually in an offshore racing boat you carry a satellite phone for emergencies and media coverage, but the Mini class is all about ‘pure sailing’ – we are not allowed to make contact with land during the race.
How important is your clothing? What do you wear e.g. layers…dealing with extremes in weather & temperature?
Essential. I have no bed, shower or heater onboard, so staying warm and dry is crucial.
My technical outer layer is all Hudson Wight – my title sponsor – their HW1s – the Jacket or my Smock teamed with Salopettes. The Hudson Wight kit is an excellent fit and very lightweight, which I really love – it makes me feel ‘ready for action’. The Jacket also has a very well designed hood and a high collar that importantly keeps my neck warm, while the fleece lining prevents salt rash.
Thermals, I wear Magic Marine padded leggings, fantastic to stop bruises while being thrown around inside. I then wear thermals which have been designed for deep sea diving – very fleecy and thick, these do the trick!
On my hands, feet and head, I wear a range of Sealskinz socks, gloves, beanies and caps. I am currently working with SealSkinz as an ambassador, so I get to try out all the new innovations.
Do you have a loo on board?
I have two buckets (one spare!). Going to the loo is a bit of a hassle, especially in a 30 knot breeze with the boat on its side. I would actually really like a gimbled bucket with loo roll holder…
What’s the most important thing on the boat?
Three things; the autopilot, my life line and head torch. Minis are such a handful to sail that being attached is essential, while without the autopilot you can’t sleep – and a head torch also helps you to manage at night!
What’s on your iPod?
At sea I like to listen to Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Thin Lizzy, Pearl Jam. A bit of drum N’ base, dance music and jazz too, no artists in particular.
What are you most looking forward to?
‘Getting away from it all’, surfing downwind until I see land appear on the horizon.
I went to both Lanzarote and Guadeloupe to follow the 2013 Mini Transat, and am actually really looking forward to going back to Lanzarote – there are some fantastic caves and art work by Cesar Manrique.
In Guadeloupe, I’ll be after homemade coconut ice-cream!
What is your worst nightmare?
Losing the keel. I actually do have nightmares about this sometimes.
Have you had to alter anything on the boat especially for this race?
For this race I need to do a complete electronic refit, replace my rudder brackets and do some deck reinforcement. I will need to take more safety equipment, water, food – this needs to be packed and organised well.
For every race I have a general check list I follow – e.g. checking the rigging, mast, spreader brackets is essential.
How do you sleep, or don’t you?
I sleep in twenty minute naps when I am close to shore / other boats, relying on a Solosails Sleep timer to wake me up.
Further offshore it is ok for one hour – but obviously the more you sleep, the less you are sure to be heading in a good direction as fast as possible. It is a fine balance between being fresh and being too knackered to perform!
Are you prepared for sleep deprivation?
I have had a lot of practice and generally finish races feeling more refreshed then when I started – due to the stress of getting the boat ready for races and planning the navigation, routing etc.
I have not hallucinated while sailing the mini – which has happened before – so I have definitely improved my sleep management.
How long are you out of sight of land?
Pretty much from day 2. Crossing the Bay of Biscay I will be offshore and then there is nothing until Lanzarote, approx. 10 days later.
What are the best weather conditions for you?
I am quite fast upwind in light winds, so I like that.
Downwind, 17 – 20 knots is perfect – a change over between sails makes things interesting while the boat can get flying.
How long do you spend in Guadeloupe and what will you do there?
There will be a compulsory few days at the finish to see all the competitors arrive and for the prize giving. I will have a good party and a sleep, and do some exploring.
Are your family going out to the start/Guadeloupe?
My closest family will be at the start in France and hopefully for the stop over in Lanzarote.
I very much hope my parents, sister and partner will be able to come to Guadeloupe. I have a lot of saving to do to be able to pay the flights!
Will people at home be able to track you and follow your progress online?
Yes – thanks to YB Tracking, I have a map on my website www.lizzyracing.com so you can see where I am during training and deliveries between France and England. During the races, we are all supplied with a Yellow Brick tracker and each race has a dedicated website, Facebook and Twitter page where you can keep up to date.
What piece of advice would you offer other young up & coming sailors?
Work out what you want from sailing – do you want to race? Inshore or offshore? Fully crewed, double handed or solo? Knowing what direction you want to go in can help you to plan a race season tailored towards your goal – e.g. for fully crewed or double handed, there are plenty of series in the Solent tailored this type of racing.
Getting in touch with yacht clubs to be put on a crew list and joining the Young members groups can be excellent ways to get a spot onboard.
The most important thing is to always remember why you are going sailing – for the fun and the freedom!
Managing a sailing campaign can be extremely time consuming, stressful and sometimes it seems you are getting nowhere – but if you believe you can achieve your goals, you can.
I always like to have another interest alongside sailing – for the past two years I have competed in the Haute Route cycling events, but now I am focusing on Triathlon, taking on an Iron Man 70.3 in August. I find this good physical training for sailing while also widening your social group.
You can follow Lizzy’s news and Blog via her website http://www.lizzyracing.com or through her Twitter feed @lizzyracing or on Facebook: Lizzy Offshore Racing
Peta Stuart-Hunt / PR Works
Mob: +44 0 7711 477707