B&G Backs Youngest Solo Trans-Tasman Sailor for 2019 Mini Transat Attempt
“Who would have thought that a kid from the West Coast of the South Island would’ve become the youngest person to sail solo across the Tasman Sea?” pondered New Zealand sailor Cory Mclennan, reflecting on his 2014 completion of the ITL Solo Tasman Yacht Challenge. Though plagued by an autopilot failure and the loss of a rudder, then-nineteen year old Mclennan successfully completed the gruelling race from New Zealand’s Port Taranaki to Mooloolaba in Queensland, Australia after sixteen days at sea.
Mclennan’s interest in sailing began at age seven, inspired by the career of celebrated New Zealand yachtsman Sir Peter Blake. Mclennan’s desire to take the sport offshore was similarly inspired, when at age sixteen he was awarded a scholarship from the New Zealand Sailing Trust to join the crew of Lion New Zealand – formerly sailed to multiple victories by the late Sir Peter – on the yacht’s delivery from Fiji to New Zealand.
Now, with his successful Tasman crossing behind him and his passion for ocean racing stronger than ever, Mclennan is gearing up to take on the 2019 Mini Transat. One of the most challenging ocean races in the world, the 4,000-mile Atlantic crossing between France and Brazil is made in a 6.5-metre yacht.
“My solo Trans-Tasman was a great starting point,” said Mclennan. “It showed what I was made of to the rest of the sailing community, the wider community, and most importantly to myself. [After that] I wanted to go bigger, I wanted to take on the world.”
Mclennan will make his 2019 attempt in a Mini 6.50 class yacht with a Kiwi connection: sister-ship to the vessel built by New Zealand sailor Chris Sayer for his own 2003 Mini Transat entry. Though Sayer placed third in the 1999 Mini Transat, a change of rules saw him fail to qualify in 2003. Sayer joined the race anyway, garnering significant media attention as a ‘pirate entry’ and unofficially finishing near the front of the field despite a delayed start.
Kiwi designed and built, Mclennan’s Mini 6.50 was recently shipped from France to New Zealand where it underwent a major refit in preparation for racing.
“After having a lot of electronics failures I was very keen for that not to happen again!” explained Mclennan. “Only the best would do so I could really have trust in my gear. With a full B&G fit out, the mini will be equipped with the very best electronics on the market in the world – gear that offers safety as well as cutting edge information while on the race track. It’s going to change the way I can sail solo, and that way will be fast!”
In the build-up to the 2019 Mini Transat, Mclennan plans to cover as many miles as possible in training and local races – including another solo trans-Tasman attempt in 2018.