History of the Mini Transat at Penzance


The Mini Transat race is a transatlantic yacht race for small boats. To be precise the competitors sail boats that are no longer than 6.5m (21 foot), single-handed.

In 1977 the British yachting enthusiast, Bob Salmon came up with the idea of this race. Penzance was seen as the ideal location for the start of this daring race.

From the Penzance side the then Commodore, Ken Matthews ran things and was responsible for the team for scrutineers and starters in Penzance.

Yacht & Boat Owner – 1977 Mini Transat Report

The first four editions of the race were started from Penzance Sailing Club in 1977, 79, 81 and 83.

The race took competitors from Penzance to a stopover in Tenerife and then on to Antigua. The race has been dominated by French sailors since these early races and in 1985 the race start transfer to Brest on the French coast.

Complete 1981 Mini Transat – Sailing Instructions
Extract from 1983 Mini Transat – Sailing Instructions

Watch this interview with Bob Salmon before starting the 2012 Mini Fastnet (including archive video of the Penzance races).

Since its early beginnings in Penzance the “Mini” has gone on to start the careers of many famous sailors including Britain’s Ellen Macarthur.

Full details of the race are available from the Classe Mini or the Mini Transat websites.

Entrants from our club

John Tomlinson

In 1979 John sailed the Mini Transat in Brian Saunders’ E-Boat “Smiling Tree” after Andy Brooks dropped out. John was the first British boat to arrive in Antigua.

Brian Sanders

The renamed Smiling Tree, “Age of Steam” did the Transat in 1981 this time skippered by Brian.

Andrew Wood

On October 26 2007 Andrew Wood completed the Mini Transat in 27 days, 0 hours, 37 mins, 1 sec in 21st place.

Below at extracts from Andrew’s video diary from Leg One and Two.

Leg 1

Leg 2

Race Positions


1 – Daniel Gilard – Petit Dauphin
2 – Kasmierz Jaworski – Spanielek
3 – Halvard Mabire – Haro


1 – Norton Smith – American Express
2 – Jean-Luc Van den Heede – Gros Plant
3 – Daniel Gilard – Petit Dauphin


1 – Jacques Peignon – Iles du Ponant
2 – Vincent Lévy – Pineau des Charentes
3 – Eric Lecotelley – Forclusion


1 – Stéphane Poughon – Voiles Cudennec
2 – Bernard Abalan – Bousbir
3 – Olivier Chapuis – Supermarché Champion

Full Mini Transat Competitor List / Results 1977 – 1983