American Skipper MacFarlane Battles to Sail in Mini Transat

After facing a dismasting just off the coast of Spain during a 1,000-mile Mini Transat qualifier last April, which resulted in being airlifted, hospitalized and left with several broken bones in his left hand, skipper Jeffrey MacFarlane has overcome the odds and is the only American to be sailing in the 2013 Mini Transat.

Racing 4,000 miles in 21-foot sailboats from Douarnenez, France, to Pointe á Pitre in Guadeloupe with a quick stopover in the Canary Islands—all without computer navigation—makes the Mini Transat no joke, but MacFarlane is up to the challenge.

He’s even gone above and beyond the call of duty. Because regulations mandate that sailors both qualify for and race in the Mini Transat in the same boat, and because MacFarlane’s qualified vessel was damaged after the dismasting, he sailed an additional 1,000 miles in a chartered Mini 6.5 759 in order to re-qualify for the Mini Transat within five months before the start.

“I competed in the 220 mile-long Trophee MAP race starting on June 13 and the 600 mile-long Mini Fastnet race starting on June 23. Both races started in Douranenez, [and they] were difficult for a number of reasons,” MacFarlane stated in an interview with Scuttlebutt.

U.S. sailor Jeffrey MacFarlane

U.S. sailor Jeffrey MacFarlane

"I was cautious, as I knew I had to finish these races in order to qualify for the Transat, and I was still a bit nervous about injuring my hand further, and I simply needed more time with the boat to master all of the ins and outs of the vessel because it’s very different from 716,” he explained.

His caution paid off, because soon after, MacFarlane qualified for the Mini Transat and bumped his Mini sailor rank up to number three from number five. Before his dismasting, MacFarlane was ranked number one.

His hopes to sail in the Mini Transat were temporarily dashed, however, because he was placed on the waitlist by the time he re-qualified. Fortunately for MacFarlane, a sailor dropped out and MacFarlane is now racing, and he’s grateful for the support he’s received so far.

After a string of uphill battles, MacFarlane crossed the start line when the gun went off on Oct. 29 at 9:19 local time after the race was delayed two weeks due to severe weather. 

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