n early 2007, I sat down with the offshore committee of the Newport Yacht Club and, after much debate, was told that the 21-foot Mini 6.50—the same boat used for Europe’s Mini Transat Race from France to Brazil—would be granted its own division in that year’s Bermuda 1-2 Race.
Since then, the number of Minis actively sailing in the United States has doubled, to about 30 boats. Although this number pales in comparison to the number of Minis competing in Europe, it represents a real step forward for the class on this side of the Atlantic.
Besides competing in another Bermuda 1-2 in 2009, Minis have been showing up in races like the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race and the Ida Lewis Distance race. This year’s Pacific Cup, from San Francisco to Hawaii, included two Minis racing double-handed, making it the first American transoceanic race to have a Mini participating.
One of the Mini sailors taking part in this year’s Pacific Cup was Emma Creighton. She has her eyes set on the 2011 Mini Transat and was using this race for training, much like I did with the 2007 Bermuda 1-2 when preparing for the 2009 Mini Transat race. There are currently three builders in the United States, as well as an importer based in British Columbia.
The sailors buying these boats are generally looking for a relatively inexpensive way to do some exciting offshore racing. However, they are also getting a practical little boat, with a useable interior for coastal cruising and plenty of room for a crew of up to five people on a daysail. If you are a sailor who enjoys fast, exhilarating sailing, the Mini just might be boat for you.