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Scuttlebutt: Team Acadia

(March 28, 2006) “Our goal is simple,” said Clay Burkhalter. “It is to win the 2007 Mini Transat on a U.S. designed and built boat with a U.S. sailor at the helm.” The 30th Transat 6.50, popularly called the Mini Transat, will start in September 2007. The 4240-mile singlehanded race starts in La Rochelle, France, stopping in the Canary Islands and finishing in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.

Rod Johnstone, Burkhalter’s uncle, designed Acadia USA 575. The boats’ basic specs are LOA = 6.5 meters (21 feet), BOA = 3 meters, draft = 2 meters. Mast length is nearly twice the LOA and they carry about 400 square feet of sail area upwind (1200 feet downwind). An American-designed boat won the Mini Transat in 1979, but since then none have contested the French-dominated race. In 2003 American Jonathan McKee’s Team McLube was leading by 100 miles when his mast broke 500 miles from the finish. Four American sailors are preparing boats for 2007.

Entrance is limited to 72 sailors who must qualify by completing a 1000-mile non-race solo sail and a 1000-mile solo race on an Open 6.5 Meter Class or ‘Mini’. Acadia was launched in late February for sea trials and several admirers were overheard saying, “She looks like a J!” In the spring Burkhalter will complete a 1000-mile qualifying solo sail in Florida and the boat will be shipped to France. -

Photos by Jennifer Langille

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