Sailing is the fun part of every campaign, and obviously why so many of us are love this sport. If you like sailing a “normal” boat, then you should try a Mini.. they become addictive like a drug and before you know it your hooked!
Most people view a mini campaign and see only the sailing part of Mini life, but there is far more to a mini campaign than staying awake for ridiculous hours at a time, putting up with being constantly wet, and figuring out how to fix stuff when it breaks while surfing down a wave at 18kts in the open ocean. Infact, if you look at the amount of time on the water the average mini sailor spends compared to the other part of a mini program, my guess is that it would be less than 5%, and for a prototype campaign, probably only 1%.
What else is involved in a mini campaign, and what takes up the other 95% of our time?
Given Mini sailors are renowned for being on tight budgeted, skin of your teeth sailing addicts, it will be no surprise to find that about 2-4 hours of every day is taken up with trying to find more money. Weather this be writing letters to people you know, writing magazine articles, or writing the hundreds of sponsorship proposals we send out to companies asking for monetary support or sponsored goods such as wet weather gear, equipment, and even food. Most of these requests generate no reply or the standard “thank you for asking but no thanks” response. Do Mini sailors accept theses consent knock backs.. no way, because statistically speaking its only a matter of time before you find the right person or company to support you awesome campaign!
Well at least that’s what we hope, but in the mean time I have returned back to sea to work for a five week swing just to ensure I have enough money to make it to the start of the transit an
d I can be on the line fully cocked with all the gear (I bet that makes a few readers in the office happy on a Monday morning)! Time at sea working unfortunately means time not sailing my boat, training and working on the boat, but without money, the Transat wont happen, so rather than sit back and wait for sponsorship, we put every cent we earn into the project and hope we have enough money to eat when we arrive in Guadlaupe and we don’t arrive on the other side of the Atlantic to find the house re-possessed! Either way the Mini Transat is worth the sacrifice of the material possessions! I have not seen the house since Christmas anyway! 😉
Logistics are another time waster in a mini sailors day. Hours of time go into trying to find the best prices to get the mini from A to B. In hindsight it would have been a lot cheaper to send the RG650 straight to Lorient last year and completed all my qualifying races in the Atlantic, however, this would have also meant less time being spend on the boat, and less time on the water training, as having AUS 816 in Palma for the last few months has enabled me to train and work on the boat while still being able to work and save. Over half the campaign costs so far have been spent on moving the boat, which gives you a fair idea of the expense.
Food takes a lot of organisation to ensure that the skipper gets good nutrition from food that he or she enjoys. Sailing solo is hard work, and when you’re having a crappy nigh on the water, your cold and wet and its 3am in the morning, a hot meal or sweet drink can do wonders to moral! It takes a lot of time to research the best brands of freeze-dried and what you can afford.
Researching gear and analysing cost takes hours of every day. We all know what we would like to have on our boats, but without a sponsor giving the campaign hundreds of thousands of euro’s a year, we must budget to what we can afford. For example, last month I found a spare auto pilot computer on ebay for only $500.. a bargain considering they are normally $2000, so I snapped that one up, win win for me. If only all the other gear required for a Transat could be found on ebay at brilliant prices.. it pays to keep looking though!
Maintenance and boat preparation is another massive time killer. Im very lucky to have Nico to have designed and built the boat, and extremely lucky to have Brett Perry from Katabatic on my side who as we speak is “pimping” up the RG650 with new paint, new stickers, new blocks, sheets and halyards, and basically re-building the boat to make it look and perform even sweeter than when I left it two weeks ago. Bret has also done a great job designing the new color scheme for the boat, and now all I need is a big Sponsor name to finish it off!
Anyway, enough rambling on, my allocated time for websites is nearly up, its off to the ships gym for a couple of hours fitness training before heading back on watch. 2 weeks to go and Ill be back in France sailing a fully pimped 816 and a wallet full of cash… Well.. the boat and sailing parts are real, the money is already as good as spent!!