Small boat crossing across the Atlantic


Record attempt on a 21-foot yacht

American solo sailor Jay Thompson prepares to cross from New York to Lizard Point in his 6.50 miniature car to set a new record for crossing the Atlantic small boat

Records of small boat crossings in the Atlantic are always fascinating. What motivates a captain to test the limits by sailing a 21-foot yacht?

For American sailor Jay Thompson, his wish is to highlight that the Mini 6.50 is a seaworthy boat, and that this famous French class has potential beyond the Mini Transat.

The Mini 6.50’s primary goal is to innovate and prove it is valuable. Some people question boats because of their size, but there are strict rules about construction and these boats are truly seaworthy. There are hundreds of such boats here in France and people are more interested in sailing in them. Hopefully by completing the record, he will open the door for others,” Thompson explained.

Although the Mini 6.50 has sailed across the Atlantic, from Cape Verde to the Caribbean, no one has sailed from Ambrose Light, New York to Lizard Point. The Thomson attempt, which will take place at the end of August, will be monitored by the World Sailing Speed ​​Recording Council.

The 37-year-old will attempt the record frustrating Mini 6.50, Speedy Gonzalezdesigned by Guillaume Verdier, whom he met during the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe.

Thompson built the boat himself on a hanger in France, and worked with Verdier on a new T-rudder system, which allows the rudder to flip if it hits something in the water.

He raced the boat in the 2021 Mini Transat, finishing 9th out of a total of 90 riders, with a time of 27 days 03 hours 3 minutes 49 seconds.

“The boat is an ever-evolving process; you always make small improvements to improve it, but there are some changes I made to try and score. For the Mini Transat I used 100% solar but will now have different trackers on board, a computer to download the weather, And Iridium GO! All of these things consume more energy than we’re allowed in Transat, so I installed an Efoy methanol fuel cell on board to keep it powered,” he explained.

After being bitten by the sailing bug as a teenager, racing in 420s and Lasers soon followed before the Marstrom 32 circuit, TP52s and F16 World Championship.

But in 2008, Thompson discovered what he really wanted to aim for.

‘I really fell in love with the Vendée Globe. It was Sam Davies I was following as really, she was the only one communicating in English at that time. I was always really interested in doing this type of racing, so I came to France and ran into Conrad Coleman, who was way behind schedule for the 2016 Vendée.

‘Initially he couldn’t even pay me but then he signed a small sponsor and I was able to continue working for him. It is such a small world so you get to know other people really easily, so I have gone on to work for other teams like Boris Herrmann and then this January, Sam Davies asked if I would work for her on the new Initiatives-Cœur, so I am now there as a préparateur,’ he added.

Thompson’s ultimate ambition now is to skipper his own Vendée Globe IMOCA 60.

His record attempt can be followed at Coconut Sails Team: