Aina Bauzá on course to become the first Balearic woman to cross the Atlantic single-handed

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Mallorcan sailor Aina Bauzá is busy preparing and training to become the first Balearic woman to cross the Atlantic solo in the Mini Transat 2023. Aina has been sailing and competing all her life since she was a very young girl. She comes from a nautical family and first took to the water in Sa Rapita before joining the Palma yacht club and then Club de Vela Port d’Andratx some six years ago. She told the Bulletin that all of the local yacht clubs are being extremely supportive because they all consider her project a Mallorcan one, as she embarks on making nautical history for the Balearics.

However, before she gets to the starting line in September next year for the first leg of the 4,000-mile course from Les Sables d’Olonne (France) to La Palma in the Canary Islands, she has to get some serious nautical miles under her belt – some 2,500 nautical miles so she can qualify for the Mini Transat.

Aina has already taken part in the Solo Med Regatta, but due to bad weather she could only manage 560 miles. So between August and September she hopes to be able to complete the remaining miles in competition. At the end of this month she will be competing in France on board Redò, the 6.5-metre Mini she acquired in January, as she continues with her preparations.


Redò will be a yacht committed to sustainability with solar panels and an electric motor.

“It is already here, we can already see it and touch it. But there is still a lot of work to do”, said Aina, who has been surprised by “the great response from many people who have given me their support” as well as by the help of “friends and people I didn’t even know”. “They have helped me to fine-tune the boat. It has been amazing,” said Aina.

She already has an extensive track record as a sailor at the Club de Vela Port d’Andratx in classes such as Optimist, Laser 4.7, Laser Radial and ILCA 6. She is part of the Spanish sailing team and recently finished fourth in the Offshore World Championship alongside Guillermo Altadill, but she knows that she still has plenty of work cut out over the next year.

“It’s non-stop. Every time we’re out in the water we are fine-tuning the yacht so that come September both she and I are in optimum condition to compete to win the regatta.
“Once we’ve completed the first stage down to La Palma, we then head across the Atlantic to Guadalupe and that should take some 15 days. This year, a record number of sailors have signed up – some 200 when the norm is around 100.

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“As a result of Covid, sailors have got used to competing with much smaller crews and the idea of competing solo has become much more popular. So it’s going to probably be one of the most competitive crossings in the history of the regatta.
“And there will be a mixture of sailors. Some will be out to win it, others to gain experience and simply complete the race.
“I intend to win it, but that is obviously easier said than done,” she said.

The Mini Transat is one of the most demanding transoceanic races in the world. It is the smallest oceanic category race with the smallest boats, measuring 6.5 metres long by three metres wide. They are without any type of comfort inside and without the possibility of using electronic cartography or external communication, beyond a daily weather report provided by radio by the organisers.

“We will be racing blind to a certain extent. No maps, no satellite phone, we will have a radio channel open to talk to other sailors if they are close by, but that’s it. And we’re only allowed to use the safety channel in the event of a serious emergency.

“Plus, we will be carrying the bare minimum of food. It will all be prepacked and prepared. We will have a boiler for water to mix with the dried food, but that’s it – no luxuries whatsoever.
“But that’s one of the attractions. Once I finally set foot on dry land in Guadalupe, I will appreciate the finer things in life like a comfortable bed, a kitchen and a toilet,” she said.
So what could go wrong?
“Anything. I guess the worst would be a broken mast or losing the auto pilot. That would mean having to be at the helm 24/7 with no sleep – I will only be sleeping four hours a day as it is.
“Then there is always the danger of obstacles in the sea, whales, tracking on water or a leak and obvious sudden changes in the weather.

September is considered the best time of year to cross the Atlantic. It is when it is the calmest, but we are talking about the Atlantic and we can plot our own course. There is no set route.
“If you go north, the distance is short but there is less wind. If you go south, it’s longer but the winds are stronger, so it’s a case of adjusting to the elements, being at one with the boat and being able to get the very best out of the little we have,” she said.
“The support from Mallorca has been amazing, overwhelming. When I began the project earlier this year I didn’t expect to attract so many sponsors and so many people who were willing to help at a moment’s notice.

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“These yachts are not left in the water, they are only in the sea when we’re racing, so I constantly need help in lifting the yacht out of the water and transporting her to the hard. That not only takes time but means I need help. But I’ve had no shortage of that on the island.
“That said, because Mallorca still does not have an offshore training centre, I have had to spend much of my time training at the centre in Barcelona. It’s a shame because Mallorca is a great place to sail and race, but the regattas are very different to the Mini Transat. Hopefully, Mallorca will have an offshore centre sooner rather than later,” she said.

Because Aina has already completed one of the most complex stages of the countdown to the start in Les Sables d’Olonne, she has found a long list of supporters, sponsors and collaborators who will make her preparation more agile. She has enrolled in the initiative ‘The Magenta Project’, and a series of companies and brands have joined her in her bid to show their firm commitment to making the challenge of taking part in the Mini Transat 2023 a reality.

Ànima Negra, the Club de Vela Port d’Andratx, Base Mini Barcelona, Sistemas Navales, Ronstan, Oliver Ellwood, Tallamar, Sailongreeen, Nautimedia, Pires de Lima, J2, Robline, B&G, The Rigging Workshop, Loft Customs, Balearic Helicopters, Alize Boats, Aku Palma, NV Charts, Gill and Alisios Náutica have all got behind her and she cannot thank them enough – apart from winning the Mini Transat and joining Balearic male sailors, such as Nacho Postigo, Hugo Ramón, José Linares and Felip Moll, by becoming the first female born in the Balearics to complete this demanding challenge.

“I am the first female sailor from the Balearics to sail solo in offshore sailing, and in the Mini Transat in September 2023 there will be two Spanish girls,” she said, recalling how all this ‘madness’ began.
“I started sailing in the Mini Transat because some friends were competing in a regatta. I went to see them and I wanted to try the boat. I sailed and sailed more miles and then I decided to set up my own project”.

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That 500-mile journey was the prelude to what awaits her next year.
“I was competing in Olympic sailing, but with this I found the extra motivation I was looking for. Even though it’s a change, I’m still sailing,” she said.
“The CVPA (Andratx yacht club) is supporting me, just as it has done for so many years in so many regattas. It’s lucky that they accompany me in everything I do, they help me a lot,” she said.
“And my parents have been very supportive. They are very excited and are always tracking me on GPS when I am competing so they can make sure that I am ok. That said, once I start the Mini Transat, I will pretty much be off the radar and out of communication with everyone,” she added.
Even so, crossing the Atlantic single-handed next year is just another challenge.
Her ultimate goal is to compete in the Vendée Globe, a single-handed (solo) non-stop round-the-world yacht race.

The race was founded by Philippe Jeantot in 1989, and since 1992 has taken place every four years. It is named after the Département of Vendée in France, where the race starts and ends.
The Vendée Globe is considered an extreme quest of individual endurance and the ultimate test in ocean racing.

“But we’re talking serious sailing in a 70-foot yacht, so I am going to have to get as much offshore experience as possible and obviously big sponsors. It’s the ultimate challenge for any sailor and is not to be taken lightly,” Aina said.

But first things first. She needs to qualify for next year’s Mini Transat and then win it and make Balearic sailing history. Captain Jonny Greenall, owner of Balearic Helicopters said: “Balearic Helicopters has always supported local communities and charities and is a big believer in Mallorca. It is inspirational that in these days she is so determined to undertake such a mission, especially a solo challenge and with so much courage to go and do it against the odds, but is still upbeat, motivated and keeps smiling in the face of adversity.”

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