Mini Transat: The Players

34 non-French teams from 16 countries will compete in the upcoming Mini Transat. Could the reign of the French be over?
© Jacques Vapillon / Mini Transat Islands of Guadeloupe – 2015

This piece has been translated from French by the Mini Transat Media team, please excuse any errors that may result.

The Mini Transat remains true to tradition, with 46% of entries coming from outside of France, contributing to the reputation of the Mini Class, it is one of the most internationally renowned editions of offshore races in the world. Here, We look at the entries, candidates for the big adventure, some of which have left behind commitments to pursue their big dream.

Italy, Spain and the effects of the Mediterranean Circuit


For the past few years, particularly the Spanish and Italian Mini Classes have been active in organising races in the Mediterranean, mainly with starts in Barcelona or Valencia in Spain or Genoa in Italy. As a result the number of entries from both countries continues to grow and with a number of repeat entries, there is every chance that they could be on the podium of the Mini Transat îles de Guadeloupe. Particularly Alberto Bona and Michele Zambelli from Italy, who both had great races in the 2013 edition. They return with high performance prototypes and hope to be fighting for a podium spot.

In Spain, with the exception of the 23 year-old Fidel Tureinzo, the Mini Transat îles de Guadeloupe has been discovered later in life by the entrants who are all around 40 years old and over. Some, such as Carlos Lizancos, the eldest on this 20th edition of the race, have established racing careers, primarily as crew on large yachts. Being able to adapt to the solo racing culture will be one of the keys to their success.

Women in the Transat


Four women will be at the start of the Mini Transat îles de Guadeloupe and with the exception of Pilar Pasanau from Spain, the rest are from English speaking countries. Nikki Curwen follows in her fathers steps having finished 2nd in 2001. Lizzy Foreman fell in love with the race having followed it on one of the accompanying boats. They are joined by Katrina Ham from Australia who moved to France two years ago to prepare for her second participation in the race.

Two other English speaking sailors complete the contingency; Luke Berry who is English and lives in Nantes, and Irishman, Tom Dolan, who left his island and moved to work at the l’école des Glénans before responding to the call offshore offshore racing.

Europeans, from East to North


Three Germans, two Dutch, an Estonian, a Pole, a Hungarian, a Russian… The Mini Transat Îles de Guadeloupe is known well beyond the Atlantic and Mediterranean shores. Tamas Kovacs, the Hungarian entry, made his debut in sailing on Lake Balaton before deciding it was time to broaden his horizons. In Poland Radoslaw Kowalczyck sets himself another objective; to race a prototype that is set for series build. Built in Poland, the boat could become an interesting alternative for those who prefer the liberties freedom of the prototype to the constraints of production boats. Further east still, Yury Firsov will have the difficult task of representing his country, Russia, against this host of maritime nations.

Close neighbours

Two Belgians and three Swiss, from French speaking neighbouring francophone countries will be competing, as they have been in like on each of the previous editions with some serious podium spot candidates. Racing in the series cClass, Jonas Gerckens, who likes nothing more than to race on long courses, will be trying to forget his disappointing 2013 experience, whilst Patrick Girod from Switzerland would like nothing more than a repeat result of his fellow Swiss sailor Justine Mettraux, who finished 2nd in the 2013 race. In the prototype class, could Simon Koster fulfil the potential of the get the most out of the most extreme of the boats entered? We will see first results at the end of the first stage in Lanzarote in the Canaries.


For some, entry in the Mini Transat îles de Guadeloupe is the chance to seize the torch that others have carried before. Xu Jingkun, a sailing instructor from in Quingdao, hopes to follow in the footsteps of Guao Chuan, the first Chinese sailor to have competed in the Mini circuit and who has just bought Francis Joyon’s trimaran for a record setting atttempt at the Northeast Passage.

To date, just two non-French sailors have managed to win the race overall; the American sailor Norton Smith in 1979 and Yvan Bourgnon from Switzerland in 1995. The 2015 edition of the Mini Transat îles de Guadeloupe looks like a promising one for those wishing to beat the French seasoned sailors. Simon Koster, Michele Zambelli, Albrto Bona or Luke Berry… these are just some of the a few strong contenders. The Mini Transat îles de Guadeloupe continues to open borders encouraging entries from all nations.