MINI 6.50 40
With just 21ft LOA to build a single-handed boat capable of crossing the Atlantic, designers are forced to find creative solutions in the Mini Proto class in the search for performance and stability. One development first tested in the Mini was the canting keel.
The first was Michel Desjoyeaux’s 1991 entry: “I made the first offshore racing boat with a canting keel, adjustable bowsprit folding along the sheer line, and a lot of details now common on those boats and bigger,” Desjoyeaux recalls.
“The adjustable bowsprit was for gybing the kite from the cockpit – in those days pilots were poor, and the kites were big.”
Ellen Macarthur then sailed another experimental Fauroux canting Mini, Le Poisson, in the 1995 Transat. Mark Turner recalls: “Minis are great for development as the loads are ‘hand-held’ level – so the original concept can be developed without the complications of power and hydraulics. Uniquely they didn’t get the hull fittings sorted in Ellen’s boat, so there was a totally blocked off area right up to the roof, which made living inside even smaller than a normal Mini. Of course that didn’t bother Ellen too much…
“Simpler to operate than water ballast, especially for the solo sailor (and much quicker to tack), the canting keel, which remains a mainstay system to this day, was an immediate performance leap. Of course it was the boat that started her solo racing career too.”