Sailing solo across the Atlantic is in no way a mean feat, and conditions can be tough, this is why race organisers of the 2013 Mini Transat have a thorough qualification and inspection process for all competitors.
Not only must skippers hold the relevant qualification to race across the atlantic, they must also possess radio licences, insurance and have the boat registered with a flag state to enable them to embark on an international voyage.
Compeditors also have to pass a rigorous qualification including a minimum of over 1000nm of races and 1000nm qualifier. The boats also must be verified and I find myself flying into France today after only a brief stop in Australia to continue racing and ensure that the brand new RG650 qualifies as a series boat for the 2013 Mini Transat. This will be the first transit for the RG650 so measurement, stability checks, and safety checks must be completed before the RG is allowed to race.
My body also has to pass a through examination, and yesterday I completed my medical examination in Australia including a Echocardiogram and effort test. I have had a lot of medial tests in my life to ensure I have been fit for deep dives, round the world racing, and long distance passages but I have never required such intense examination as this.
The tests were through and quite fun. Firstly they shaved my chest and placed sensors all over my body and then wired me up to a machine. I then lay on the bed and the nurse took a ultrasound of my heart. It was amazing to see the blood flowing through my heart, the valves opening and closing and the heart beating on the screen. It reminded me.
Once the ultrasound was done, I was placed on a running machine that gradually increased in speed and inclination to test my fitness under the observation of the sensors. I was impressed that even after five weeks at sea on a ship I managed to maintain a high level of fitness, and after 15 minutes or so of walking and running the doctor took me from the machine back to the bed where further ultrasound ensured that my heart was still beating.
While the final tests are yet to be written up and processed, the doctor was pleased to inform me that I was fit healthy and had a heart that worked and that I would have no problems with my heart if things were to become a little extreme. These documents will be sent to France for examination by the race doctors, and in a few days my entry to the Mini Transat will be 100%.
After over 24 hours of flying, I am now sitting in the Charles De Gall airport about to board my plane to Montpellier where I will then make my way to the famous La Grande Motte Yacht Club – the yacht club where just over a year ago I first picked up the RG650 for my first 400nm Mini passage to Valencia. I look forward to seeing the boat again, and making final preps for my last big race before the Mini Transat.