Next month Katrina Ham, from Brisbane, will be on the start line of the Mini Transat race. She is the only Australian amongst the fleet of 74 competitors, the only competitor from the Southern hemisphere and one of only four women in the race.
The Mini Transat fleet will leave Douarnenez, France on September 19th and race solo across the Atlantic to Guadaloupe in the Caribbean via the Canaries. They race in 21-foot (6.5m) pocket rockets that have no comforts: no bed, no toilet, no computers and most importantly no communication to land. These are the reasons that make the Mini Transat the ultimate test of a sailor.
Katrina moved to France in 2012 to pursue her solo ocean racing dreams. She didn’t have a boat, a sponsor or a job – and she didn’t speak any French! In the last three years she has overcome all of these obstacles one by one: earning money by teaching English, living in a van to save on housing costs, taking language lessons and dedicating as much spare time as possible to sailing and working on her boat.
Her goal is to finish the Transat. She knows she will not win the race but has shown considerable determination and dedication to get to this point. She is still looking for partners to help her get to the start line – the clock is ticking, with just 14 days for Katrina to raise the remaining funds she needs to compete!
Katrina has competed in Classe Mini races both in France and the UK, as well as completing a compulsory 1000 mile solo qualification passage for the Transat race. Not only that, she has done it all twice! In 2013 she qualified for, and then started the 2013 Mini Transat.
However during an organised massed delivery to the restart after the first leg was abandoned, Katrina’s boat was lost after it was towed into breaking waves by an official support boat. Katrina is lucky to be alive after her rescuer also ended up in the water, but her boat was sadly smashed to pieces.
In 2014 when Katrina acquired another mini, she had do all the qualification again! While doing this Katrina has had great support in France from Amanda Grey and Sandrine de Courcy but now needs the final funds to make it back to the start.
by Barney Smith