35 years old
Project manager in the field of technical certificationGo to skipper medias
For the past two years, Irina Gracheva has thrown herself headlong into her plan to participate in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère. It’s an adventure every step of the way, which the young Russian is thoroughly enjoying. Step by step, she’s getting ever closer to achieving her dream and is now the first Russian woman to set off on a singlehanded offshore race. It’s highly symbolic for someone who began sailing at school at 13. A real fan, she later got into Quarter tonner and Open 800 sailing. Saint Petersburg, Vladivostok, Estonia and Finland are her familiar playgrounds, but her offshore experience also extends to an expedition to Cape Horn in 2015 aboard a 40’ monohull and, more recently, a double-handed transatlantic in 2017. 13 days, 5 hours, 19 minutes and 38 seconds of sailing from Bermuda to Plymouth were enough to definitively set her on the road to a singlehanded Atlantic passage.
In the space of two years, Irina has discovered pretty much all there is to know about a Mini-Transat project. Methodical, she initially opted to learn French, which she now has a real talent for (but not enough for her taste), before taking on multiple roles as project manager, technician, marketing rep, photographer and journalist to tell her story… “I just love this experience. I’ve had a ball during these two years of preparation. Driving this project and joining the Mini class has literally changed my life. Not only have I raised my game as a sailor, above all I’ve become a stronger, more solid person”, says Irina with stars in her eyes.
Having secured a visa and residence permit, she’s been able to confidently finish off her preparation. Aboard her production Mini launched in 2005, she’s racked up a number of races in the two seasons between 2018 and 2019. She’s finished every one of them. And she’s set herself the exact same goal for this Mini-Transat La Boulangère: “I just want to get to the finish in Martinique in as short a timeframe as possible!” announces Irina, before pointing out what she fears the most: “My fear is hitting something. A whale or a fishing boat that doesn’t appear on AIS. I’m also anxious about sailing for such a long period without the efficient support of the autopilot. I’m also fearful of not having any working electronics aboard or dismasting…” To ward off ill fortune, she’ll be slipping across the Atlantic listening to rock, watching the fish, birds and mammals crossing tacks with her and relishing the opportunity to be sailing alone offshore!
Nautical track record
2000-2008: Skipper of Quartertone Kvartet
2009-2015: Sailing an Open 800
2015: Expedition to Cape Horn aboard Kekilikstrion, a 40’ monohull
2013-2017: Sailing offshore aboard Anna, a 53’ monohull
2017: Season aboard the Class 40 Talanta 95, double-handed transatlantic with Mikael Ryking
2018-2019: Season in Mini Transat
19th in the Mini Fastnet 2019
16th in the Trophée Marie Agnès Peron 2019
23rd in the Mini en Mai 2019