Conwy skipper Cris to take on 'brutal' Mini Transat race

June 01, 2020

Wales based sailor Cris Miles has taken the first steps to enter the prestigious ‘Mini Transat’ race that takes place every two years, the next race being 2021.

The project currently based at Conwy Marina is believed to be only the second time a Welsh based boat has attempted the race.

The boat, brought from France before lockdown, is a ‘Classe Mini 6.50 - just 21’ long. Despite the diminutive size these boats are faster than most speed boats in the right conditions, capable of speeds in excess of 20 knots.

The race is a brutal test, with skippers only sleeping for 20 minutes at a time, and no luxuries on board (no toilet!).

"It’s not just about sailing the boat. We have a team who look after nutrition, logistics, technical issues, tactics and sponsorship. It’s new to all of us and we’re helping each other along, the goodwill is so energising” says skipper Cris Miles.

“We’ve got most of those roles filled although we could use some help with the marketing and sponsorship side.

"The project has attracted support from a number of companies, but has a long way to go to get the funding for a full campaign.

Before even getting to the start line each competitor must qualify, no easy task in itself.  The qualification process involves a 1,000 nautical mile solo passage, followed by 1,500 miles of racing. 

Despite the project having been set back by two months due to Covid-19, the plan is to sail around Lundy, Ireland and the Isle of Man in the coming months, then return the boat to France for competing in the qualifying races.

Cris has had a love of the water pretty much from day one, swimming for Stalybridge and Lancashire in his early years along with enjoying fishing and canoeing.

He joined Dovestone Sailing Club on his 13th birthday, and was sailing with the National Champion within two years. He enjoyed a spell in the Merchant Navy following which he threw himself into sailing enjoying success at National, European and World Championships in several different dinghy classes.

There were a few short spells away from sailing that saw him Rock Climbing, Fell Running and Paragliding (winning the British Paragliding Cup).

In 2011 came the most significant step when Cris and his wife Sheila bought their first yacht, a 30’ cruiser racer.

Sailing out of Conwy in all conditions they both enjoyed success on the water, winning many local regattas and the Round Anglesey Race.

In 2016 Cris decided it was time to turn professional and set up BOOM Sail, Power and Race Training. Working through his professional exams Cris became a Yachtmaster Instructor in late 2016 and oversaw the growth of the sailing and powerboat school to a thriving business until lockdown brought everything to a grinding halt.