Ian Munslow,

a Uk sailor that build his own boat, did the Transat in 2001 and came back for more.... His campaign is an example of "low" budget Mini sailing... His season was a difficult one due to a collision he had, with a lot of damage. His sails where a bit dodgy...So he really had to overcome some difficulties ;)

12 Days to go for the start...Sept 2003

Hello
Today is the deadline for all the minis to be in the old basin in La
Rochelle.  There are still a few stragglers who have not arrived but the
majority are present.  I have only been back in France for 4 days now, I
spent the last 3 weeks back in England working and searching for money to
pay for the return cargo and extra insurance.  Thanks to a couple of very
generous people I now have enough cash.  From now on it's all security
checks, briefings and waiting....

I caught the ferry across to Cherbourg and then the train down to here via
Paris. It was a bit of a job carting a bag, a big spinnaker, a solar panel
and other junk on the metro. I couldn't even get through the turnstilles

My boat is reasonably ready, I have a new jib coming and I have borrowed another masthead spi.  It would be wise to get new batteries but I'll work on that one.  It's baking hot, much hotter than it was when I left England and there doesn't seem to be much indication that the weather will break before we leave.  It could mean light airs in Biscay, mmmmmm not my favourite.

The real thing...LEG 1, Sept 2003

La Rochelle - Puerto Calero, Lanzarote 1250 miles solo

Hi

The start was at first delayed for 2 days due to bad weather in Biscay.  We left La Rochelle in the evening, the start was at 5.30 pm and hectic. A heavy port bias on the line and over about 20 kts of wind isnīt very funny when there are 70 boats being sailed solo.  A few guys had collisions and had to return to La Rochelle.  We did a windward/leeward mark and then off into a strong westerly breeze.  I footed off south of the rhum line and reached the spanish coast 40 miles east of Gijon, then a northeasterly filled pushing us down to Cape Finisterre.  Off the cape it was windy, just a local effect which soon died and then it was periods of light winds always from the northern sector until the portuguse trades filled in.  In the straits if Gibraltar we had easterlies and then back down to nothing agin as we approached Lanzarote.  I averaged 5.3 Kts arriving just after dark on Friday in 19th place.  That is only 23 hrs behing the leader.  For a lot of the race I was close to some good boats a always in Vhf contact with the leaders.  My rudders delaminated slightly, which gave me some concern so the hot reaches were not an option, I was forced to run deep.  The problem will be fixed this week - no worries there.  I tore 2 spis but they can be fixed..... but no other issues at all and I enjoyed myself.

some guys have issues. one dismasting, one broken spreader, a few broken rudders, one forestay fitting removed from the boat, one pogo went down the side of a cargo ship and another guy was pushed aside by the bulbous bow of a cargo (nasty). A French guy has been throw out of the race for runnig aground on Lanzarote and needing assistance to get off.  As I write this there are 14 sailors still out there....

We leave Lanzarote on Saturday

MINI TRANSAT LEG 2 LANZAROTE - SALVADOR DA BAHIA 2900 MILES

Well.......  I think people got more information on what was going on in therace through the internet than i did while i was out there. It was full of surprises.

We departed Lanzarote in strong breeze from the n.e. probably 30kts, but certainly crazy. Some guys were just pushing too hard and over cooked it. Fred Dutill and Ghislain Dendron dropped there masts that night. I carried the small spi and 2 reefs until midnight but it was only marginally controllable and 16 kts was common on the speedo. Jaume Mumbro said he did over 22kts that night.....so then for sanityīs sake it was down to the jib and 2 reefs.

From what i can remember, it all kind of blurs into one, it was down wind but moderate all the way to the Cape Verde islands.  Cian Mccarthy was always in vhf contact and 20 or so miles in front which gave me a big incentive to push because we had a tenner bet riding.  Mckee and Manuard were just miles out front when the vhf schedules came through at 0800 and 1900 hrs.  It was mind blowing how much faster they were.

I sailed through the Cape Verde islands between santiago and Fogo, a huge volcano coming straight out of the ocean to 2500+m high, it was an awesome sight. I was sailing with Chris Sayer all this day, my spirits were up because heīs a good sailor and i canīt have been doing too badly.  I gybed away from him in the evening and took 20 miles out of him overnight. I ran out of gas at this point as well...  Cold freeze dried from then on.

Then the funky wind thing started to happen...... The trade winds were not playing. I was waiting for the shift to the east but it never came and the wind was light. The crap weather started at 10 degrees north, miserable skies, rain, and the wind was from the South sector but constantly shifting.  This went on all the way to 2 degrees north.  With foul current and a bad wind angle we were tacking trough 120 degrees and it was heart breaking to look at the vmg on the gps. At 2 North the skies cleared up and it wasnīt quite as miserable... I was full of anticipation, thinking i was far enough east to be able to lay the Brazialian coast with the code 0 when the SE-E shift came....but that didnīt happen either..

So we pottered upwind, not hard on the wind but 50-60 degrees off, for hundreds of miles and all the time there was a knot or more of current against us.  It was taking ages and i was getting low on food, i had to start rationing down to 1 meal per hundred miles.  I ended up footing too hard, going for speed and naturally asuming that the wind would be more favourable down the coast of Brazil - how wrong i was. I ended up pinned on the coast and having to beat my way all the way down from Recife to just outsideSsalvador.  Guys to the East were smiling, sailing faster in stronger breeze and taking big miles out of me. I knew i was 12 or 13 place but could do nothing to stop these guys passing me.

2 days before the finish we got a bit of a kicking when a front came and sat on top of us .  I was 8 miles off the coast and in trouble because the water was only 20 m deep and the sea state was not pretty  with 30+ kts whipping it up.  I lost miles there because i had to tack offshore or i would have been mast less like a lot of other people.... Sam Manuard lost his mast in the same storm but he was in the lead and only 80 miles from the finish...  Shocker....
I learned that Mckee and Seb Roubinet had also lost their rigs, both hot sailors.  Jean Baptiste had hit a whale and lost his keel, Cian had broken his forstay and allsorts of other stuff was going down.  It was turning into a demolition derby. Michel Mirabel hit the rocks 2 miles from the finish line, his race ended there and then.

Personally, i had no breakages other than one batten in the mainsail and my specs, so i now look like an uncool Harry Potter with my old spare pair held together with tape.  I lost 9 kilos of body weight, so i am now a bit thinner, got really bad sunburn on my backside when i was trying to dry my very spotty arse.  The boat is uncomfortable to say the least but very sound and reliable. I finshed in 18th or 19th place again, probably around 13th or so overall. The trip took 3 weeks exactly. My school report reads.... Can do better but considering my budget this year and the sails i took i am quite content.

So iīd like to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped me out, it would have been impossible without other peoples input both personally and more importantly financially....  Would i do it again?  I think i need a labotomy if i do because this leg has been a very expensive way of boring yourself to death but i will never say never.  The boat is for sale or charter as of now, so if anyone is interested in a reliable mini, let them know

I want to do the Around alone next, that is not a completely unrealistric goal.. But for this i do need to find a sponsor... But for now itīs back to work to pay back the debts.
Ian Munslow