Meet The Greek Sailor Who Will Try To Cross The Atlantic In A Tiny Yacht, Solo
Offshore sailor and skipper Markos Spyropoulos will compete in the Mini Transat 2019 race.
Markos Spyropoulos is the first Greek sailor in the contemporary history of the Mini Transat Race. There was another Greek sailor, Theodoros Tetsios, who also attempted to take part back in 1983, but unfortunately, he had to quit due to a problem with the rigging of his boat. Back then the race was organized by the British Penzance Sailing Club — in 1985 it moved to France.
Mini Transat is a solo transatlantic yacht race and typically starts in France and ends in Le Marin bay, Martinique in the Caribbean. The race covers over 4,000 miles with a stop in the Madeira or the Canary Islands.
Spyropoulos grew up in Kastoria a mountain city with a beautiful lake in northern Greece. He started both sailing and rowing at an early age, at the Nautical Club of Kastoria. He began offshore sailing at the age of 18 while he was studying at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in the Department of Physical Education and Sports Science.
In 1985 he won the silver and bronze medals in the Panhellenic and the World Rowing Championships respectively and then two years later he moved to Athens where he started to work as a professional sailor in large yachts. Yet, he continued to participate in rowing races where he won 4 more medals at the Pan-Hellenic Rowing Championship: one bronze (1988), one silver (1987) and two gold (1989 & 1990).
His biggest accomplishment so far regarding sailing was his participation in the Oyster World Rally 2013–2014 where he and his team ranked 1st in the Tahiti Pearl Regatta International Multihulls, 3rd Oyster Regatta Antigua and 11th in the Tahiti Pearl Regatta TPR Racing Trophy.
But why is he really attempting such a rad race?
I have always wanted to take part in an ocean race, it was like a dream to me and I hope my participation in the Mini Transat Race 2019 will motivate young sailors to follow. The fact that the Mini-Transat is extreme solo sailing makes it even more attractive to me!
4.000 miles with only one stop. What will your strategy and tactics be?
The worst enemy in such a long distance solo race, an enemy of any long solo race actually, is fatigue. It can slow down your reflexes and affect your judgment. So, dealing with it is part of the strategy. Setting up the boat optimally in a way that it requires the minimum energy to handle it, is one way to deal with it. Then, it all depends on the conditions you find out there and your determination and frame of mind.
The aim is to keep the boat going at a maximum speed. I have crossed the Atlantic several times as a skipper in large yachts, so I am rather familiar with it. What’s important now is to get to know the boat itself, become one with the boat, and that means a lot of practice.
How do you deal with the isolation?
In such a race you don’t have the time to get lonely.
Have you ever before done such long distance crossings?
The longest distance crossings I did was back in 2013–2014 when I participated at the Oyster World Rally. The whole route was more than 27,000 nautical miles. As for the Atlantic, I’ve sailed it already seven times in the past, but never before in such a small vessel.
How does it feel to cross the Atlantic?
Crossing the Atlantic ocean, no matter how many times you’ve done it before, is always something awesome and big and don’t forget that, when it comes to sailing, you never really get to do the same trip. Weather conditions are never the same, you are not the same, the boat is never the same. So it’s always a unique experience and the feelings you get looking at the endless ocean and the profound beauty and wilderness around you are overwhelming.
Do you have any sponsors?
Yes, I wouldn’t be able to go this far already without the support of sponsors. There are still negotiations going on for the full sponsorship of my project though.
How is the Greek sailing community treating you?
I was surprised to see the enthusiasm the Greek sailing community shares over my project. The Hellenic Sailing Federation, colleagues, and athletes from the sailing and yachting space and others are very energized!
What are your plans for the near future?
Focus, introspection, and practice. All the way to the finish line.
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