Mini Transat 2015 · Dominik Lenk

Preparing for the Transat: Winter Work

After four month of winter work, everything is slowly starting up again. In May I will head to France to sail the Mini en Mai, a 500 mile single-handed race. It will be the last race that I need for a successful qualification for the Mini Transat.

A short flashback on the winter so far: Until New Years I was busy sanding the hull. I had put some solid dents into the boat during my first few harbour maneuvers and after ten years the paint was not looking that well anyway: Four Atlantic crossings leave a mark.

I applied the first coat of paint in a shed that was far too cold. Less than one week later I trailered the boat to the boatshow in Düsseldorf, where I arrived just after midnight. The boat looked extremly patchy with carbon shining through everywhere. The hall manager simply noted that normally they exhibit new boats here. (“It will get there, don’t worry!”)

In fact I wanted to take advantage of the heated hall. By five o’clock in the morning I had applied a second (nice) coat of paint. By eleven o’clock, I had removed most of the remaining antifouling. By three o’clock in the afternoon the boat was standing safe on a bright orange carpet. The next day I hijacked a hydraulic ramp from another exhibitor to put up the mast and applied the last coat of paint—less than 12 hours before the boatshow opened.

I stayed at the boatshow for nine days, talking about my campaign, both on the stage next door, on and off the boat. During those days we recorded a podcast that you can listen to here: http://www.segel.fm/?podcast=sfm-001-die-mini-transat (in German).

Also I used the boatshow to take apart my electronics, which had caused some trouble during the last qualification race. The fuel cell was tested and updated by the manufacturer next door, and a pretty long todo list was drawn up. After all, a fresh coat of paint is only half the job.

After the boatshow, the next project was new antifouling, new winches, new ropes (including the shrouds) and a home-built halyard-stopper that I “baked” on the heater in my bathroom using a vacum pump bought through Ebay. (Welcome to the mini life.)

Talking about the bathroom: My entire flat looked like a bomb had exploded. Or rather, some people might accuse me of building one. Liferaft, freeze dried food, winches, boxes of carbon fibre, methanol, acetone and enough medication to drug a small hospital … all that needed to be stored somewhere to be sorted, replaced or repaired.

Since I was missing the necesarry length in my single room, I eventually moved onto the hallway to splice and stretch my shrouds, much to the surprise of my neighbours. (Even a 26m halyard can stretched comfortably using a couple of sheaves placed on various doorknobs.)

All in all, I had every single bolt, sheave or bit onboard 348 in my hands at least once this winter. And, as a nice side effect, the boat got at least 5kg lighter. (Is that necesarry? No. Will it help? Maybe.)

On Monday the 5th of May I will test all this work for the first qualification race this year. Starting in La Trinite, heading out into Biscay for 500 miles. The tracking link will follow soon …