We’ve been following the progress of two Croatian participants in this year’s Mini Transat, a challenging transatlantic solo race whose second leg is currently taking the competitors to the finish line in Le Marin in Martinique.
In our last update on the Mini Transat 2017, we left off at the end of the first leg with Vedran Kabalin placing 17th after 10 days, 12 hours and 32 minutes at sea, while Slobodan Dado Velikić placed 54th after experiencing a setback due to technical issues, taking 13 days, 2 hours and 46 minutes to sail 1350 nautical miles and arrive at Las Palmas.
In the meantime, both of them published recaps of the first part of their journey on their blogs. Let’s take a look at their experience:
Kabalin bumped into his first osbtacle right at the beginning, getting sea-sick (for the first time in his life, he says) as soon as the first leg kicked off on October 1. It took him 12 hours to get over the nausea, his sailboat Eloa braving the ocean on automatic: “Eloa is sailing by herself, I only manage to put one reef in the main, and it seems she can handle it quite well. I feel proud of her, and a little ashamed of myself. But in the morning, as soon as I get a little better, the two of us are slowly becoming one, hour after hour, day after day… It’s funny how a person can get attached to some fiberglass, aluminum, dacron, dyneema and various electronic devices and cables”, writes Vedran.
Over on Dado’s boat Sisa, a bowsprit broke. He later also experienced a hole in the hull that had seawater flowing into his Mini, instantly deciding to change his course to the port of Leixos in Porto so he can fix the boat. “Making a technical stopover always sounded simpler than it really is. In reality, you sail into a strange port and have to convince people that you’re in a very troubling situation, and that you have an urgent need of their time, attention, mobile phones and extra commitment, all of it, of course, for free. Try to imagine a foreigner sailing into Kraljevica (Leixos to Porto is like Kraljevica compared to Rijeka) on Friday night with the same intent, all ruffled up in a mini boat that’s 6.5 metres long”, Dado wrote.
Prior to departing, the Miniists had to practice polyphasic sleep, as solo sailing for days at a time doesn’t exactly allow for multiple consecutive hours of sleep. “The next few days are all about light winds. That means we can take a shower, sleep, eat and rest. ‘Self-management’, that’s the word I heard from other Miniists before the start, and I think it represents what’s most important in this race – how you manage yourself, your energy, your emotions, your mind and your needs”, writes Vedran, continuing with his recap: “First I follow a cloud and its breeze. Then we stop. Then the wind turns. Then we go. Then I put the autopilot on. And I sleep for 10 minutes. Than I wake up and start from the beginning. With the moon and the stars showing us the way. I cry sometimes, I’m happy. In a way I haven’t been before.”
Dado was three days behind at this point: “At some point during Saturday night, I’m breaking down. I’m thirsty, I have no more water on board, I’m 30 nm away, with a speed of 1-1.5 knots. If I had an engine, I would promptly turn it on. But I don’t. I have to sail… The last two miles took me 5 hours, thirsty, my head hurting from dehydration. Vedran, Slavica and the rest of the crew come forward to greet me… I’m happy to see them, but can’t wait to be done, as all of my patience is long gone at this point. I finish, take a bath, drink, eat, sleep, laugh… what an adventure. That’s Transat!”
The second leg kicked off on November 1, and the competitors are expected to reach the shore of Le Marin around November 20. They’re currently to be found in the Barlavento archipelago of Cape Verde; at the moment, Velikić is ranked 30th, while Kabalin is falling a bit behind at the 44th place. You can follow their progress with the help of this interactive map. More to follow!
All photos courtesy of Vedran Kabalin and Slobodan Velikić.