You’d think a huge hole in the side, missing the start and flying home to Seattle with some major disappointment in his bags would mean that Craig Horsfield was out of the Mini Transat. Unbelieveably, he well may be back in it. We spoke last night as he was preparing to load up the boat and drive nonstop from Lorient, France to Sada, Spain for the restart on Tuesday of next week.
In our conversations over the last few days, Craig has handled the roller coaster of emotions amazingly well. First there were the weeks of waiting while the Bay of Biscay storms abated. Then came the start in very puffy conditions and The Collision. Craig and the other skipper, Annabelle Boudinot, both tried to avoid it but a big gust hit and the collision ensued. As disappointed as he was, Craig felt terrible about Annabelle’s situation since he was the burdoned (give-way) vessel on port tack. He helped Annabelle fix her boat and re-enter the race, but his own boat was too damaged for a suitable repair. So he packed up the boat and flew home, planning to have it fixed over winter.
But new storms scattered the fleet and the race committee made the virtually unheard of decision to abandon the race. Some boats had already finished, but three (including the only other American in the race Jeffrey MacFarlane) had to be rescued, abandoning their boats. Race organizers, trying to make racing these overpowered 21-footers as safe as possible, ultimately decided to have a one-leg race from Sada, Spain to Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe starting on Tuesday November 12. It will be a 3600-mile leg, the longest in the race’s history.
When Craig fired up his phone after landing in Seattle he found a message from the race secretary he was welcome to rejoin the race. He was on a plane within four hours headed back to France! This after a stop at Fred Meyer for some more freeze-dried dinners for the long leg. The boat has been repaired and he and two others are going to drive through the night to get to Sada. If all goes well, he’ll be on the starting line.
Imagine 84 skippers hanging on through a month after a race’s scheduled start before the real race starts. Some were badly battered on the aborted leg. Some have many of their supplies in the Canary Islands, originally their stopover for a two-leg race.
This group of sailors, a bit different by anyone’s measure, are holding up despite perhaps the craziest ocean race start ever. The racers who actually “finished” the aborted race even made a fun video.