Created in 1977 by Bob Salmon to emulate the adventurous spirit of the first transatlantic voyages, and organised every other year since its creation, this 23rd edition, which starts on 26th September 2021, will bring together 84 sailors, including future great names in sailing and others who have come to realise their dreams upon the open sea whilst relishing in their chosen freedom.

Over the years, the event has acquired the reputation as a true school of ocean racing and for good reason! Single-handed and without onboard assistance on a 6.50m boat, the skipper must be versatile and capable of taking on all the challenges that the Atlantic provides.

An Atlantic crossing, without weather routing by satellite or any contact with the land, is not an insignificant feat.

“Apart from round-the-world races, I don’t know of any other race that is so extraordinary. There are as many possible winners as there are competitors at the start,”, says Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, who now has more than a dozen circumnavigations to his name.

As always, the crossing will take place in two stages but with a slightly adapted route. Starting in the town of Les Sables d’Olonne, with a stopover in Santa Cruz de La Palma in the Canary Islands, then arriving in Saint François in Guadeloupe. Assuring a rich contrast, varied emotions, and enduring experiences.

A unique race

The 84 Ministes will set off on a 4,050 nautical miles (7,500 kilometre) route from Les Sables d’Olonne to Saint-François in Guadeloupe, with a stopover in Santa Cruz de La Palma.

The westernmost island of the Canary archipelago. An original route, full of tactics and strategy, laden with small ploys.

The initial part of the race, 1,350 nautical miles long and lasting around seven days, will throw the sailors in at the deep end. And for good reason, the segment between the start and Portugal can prove to be quite invigorating due to the headwinds and the possibility of gales.

Crossing the Bay of Biscay is a true accomplishment, and the passage of Cape Finisterre is often true to its reputation.

The second leg, with its 2,700 nautical miles taking about two weeks to finish, will mostly be played out in the trade winds until the finish line.

Two options may nevertheless emerge with more northerly route seen as the shortest option, and another to the south in search for more pressure. For this stage of the Atlantic crossing, the sailors will have to be attentive.

Multiply the manoeuvres and gybes, but also play with the squalls and the shifts during the night and the trade winds throughout the day.

The cities

Les Sables d’Olonne

A world-renowned seaside town located on the Côte de Lumière, the town of Les Sables d’Olonne stretches between its port with its lively quays and its immense sandy beach, running for more than three kilometres at the foot of its famous embankment. Naturally seaward facing, the metropolis lives to the rhythm of the departures and arrivals of major nautical events. Crowds from the four corners of France and the world come in mass along its mythical channel to encourage and applaud its heroes. Port Olona, with its 1,400 berths, is today one of the leading marinas on the Atlantic coast. It is proud to welcome the Mini Transat fleet.

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Santa Cruz de la Palma

Located on the east coast of La Palma, a heart-shaped island with many assets (dazzling volcanoes, abundant banana trees, thick pine forests, exuberant nature and a profusion of flowers…), the old town of Santa Cruz de La Palma is imbued with a colonial atmosphere. Coquettish, it is classified as a historical and artistic site because of its numerous palaces, colonial style buildings and traditional Canarian houses. Its churches are also admirable, as is the sanctuary of the Virgen de las Nieves, the scene of a secular festival; the “Bajada” of the island’s patron saint. With its 20,000 inhabitants Santa Cruz is a human-sized city that is pleasant to live in. Its Carnival is the second largest in the world, just behind Rio de Janeiro. The Marina Calero, where the Mini 6.50 will be welcomed, is located at two minutes’ walk from the city centre and its infrastructure is proof that the city has a close connection with the sea.

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Idyllic beaches, tropical forest, volcanos, tasty cuisine, festive culture, enchanting small islands, and a warm welcome awaits and delights both the lovers of relaxation and sport. The Grande-Terre, flat and arid, concentrates the tourist activity but also many seaside resorts among which Saint-François. The latter displays a very provincial charm with its beautiful colourful huts. Its lagoon is ideal for snow sports activities. Its animation is concentrated around its marina, which will naturally delight the Ministes, as well as its location only ten kilometres from the spectacular Pointe des Châteaux. The most oriental cape of the island, the most visited part of Guadeloupe with its white sand beaches and ochre cliffs eroded by the wind. In short, Saint-François is a perfect mix of charm, modernity, and sacred values.

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La société Korrigan, créée par Marc Chopin, a été désignée par la classe Mini 6.50 pour organiser les trois prochaines éditions de la Mini Transat, en 2021, 2023 puis 2025. L’entité, épaulée par l’association Les Sables d’Olonne Vendée Course au Large, club support de l’évènement et chef d’orchestre d’épreuves majeurs de la classe telles que la “Transagascogne” et la “Les Sables – Les Açores – Les Sables” ces dernières années, affiche plusieurs objectifs. En premier lieu ceux de partager les valeurs de l’aventure au large puis de faire rayonner le plus largement possible l’image de leur territoire.

C’est à présent toute une équipe qui travaille d’arrache-pied à l’organisation, la recherche de partenaires, le dessin du village, l’accueil des skippers, l’impact environnemental, le volet éducatif, la création d’animations et conférences, des actions caritatives, le dispositif en mer…, avec l’objectif de partager cet évènement avec le plus grand nombre.