'Rattle and Hum'
Last year, when I was doing a cruise in my Paradox sailboat to the Scilly Isles, I moored her at the Lymington Town Sailing Club where I sat out a gale. The members made me very welcome and allowed me to use their fine facilities. Adjacent to ‘Faith’ on the windward side of the pontoon there was a smart Mini 6.50 racing yacht named, ‘Rattle and Hum’. She was owned by Keith Willis who I met. He told me his main sponsor was the Lymington Town Sailing Club and he was concerned that the French more or less had the monopoly of the Mini-Transat Race, now called La Charente-Maritime Bahia Transat 6.50.* This solo transatlantic race for 6.5 metre yachts has a history stretching back 30 years with almost a total of 800 competitors.
I have been following the progress of this year’s participants who crossed the start line at Charente-Maritime on Sunday, 13th September on their way to Funchal in the Canary Islands to complete the first stage of the Race. Now they are on the second stage from Funchal to Bahia, and as I write, Keith is in 19th position, just about to enter the Doldrums, South of the Cape Verde Islands.
There are two separate classes in this race, the Prototypes and the Series. ‘Rattle and Hum’ is a standard Series yacht. The Prototypes are the faster, lighter, more powerful machines, differing in design, whereas the Series are almost identical. I believe there is only one other British competitor, Oliver Bond, and he is currently in 5th position, skippering Artemis, a series boat. These sailors need nerves of steel as their skimming dishes regularly exceed 12 knots. In the past, several famous racing sailors first made their names in this gruelling competition, including Loïck Peyron, Isabelle Autissier, Ellen MacArthur and Michel Desjoyeaux.