I have always had an affection for Mini 650 boats. Somehow, these little strong racers seem to capture best the fascination of crazy offshore racing and the imagination that maybe is inside us all to tackle one of these fantastic races. The Mini 650 is the best affordable offshore racer, compared to Figaro, Class 40 or of course IMOCA classes and so, at least in my head, these cinematic dreams of oneself taking on the he waves of the great Ocean seem at least realistic. Even more realistic for so many great people I´ve met so far who are involved with the class.

Let´s bring it on: Mini 650!

One of them is Lisa Berger. A young racing talent I´ve just recently discovered – thanks to facebook´s algorithm. I follow her amazing stories as she travels the coastline of France, boards a foiling Figaro 3 and acquires a brand new Mini 650 racing boat. As a German, I of course feel much closer to a German-speaking fellow sailor (Lisa is Austrian), so I I was seeking contact and asked her if she could tell her story. Lucky for me – and you – she agreed, and here is what she told me about her exciting voyage to the Mini Transat race 2023 …

Talking to Austrian Mini 650 skipper Lisa Berger

Lars Reisberg | NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “Hi there Lisa, I am happy to catch you for a quick talk. Please tell our readers who you are and what your sailing life looks like.”

Lisa Berger: “Hi Lars, well, I am Lisa Berger, 31 years old at the moment and I live in Austria at the scenic Lake Attersee. At the age of 10 I did have my first encounter with sailing during a family sailing trip in the Adriatic and since then I am on fire. At the age of 14 I passed my first sailing certification at the Lake Attersee and started serious racing at the relatively “old” age of 20. It was in 2013 when shorthanded offshore sailing and racing really caught me and from that moment on I fell in love with the Classe Mini. Not to forget the European Championship of course. This is how my dream of one time competing in the Mini Transat began.”

Lisa Berger: Skipper in her element

NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “What would you say have been the major milestone in your sailing career so far?”

Lisa Berger: “That´ll be the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers which I attended in 2017 and the Baltic 500 race in 2019. In this one I sailed a Mini 650 for the first time in a serious offshore race. Not to forget my last one, the Nastro Rosa Veloce of last year for which I was happy to receive a Beneteau Figaro 3 and competed in the doublehanded-class. These three occasions kind of really made the difference for me and the experience was an absolute boost for my Mini Transat-ambitions. This is, by the way, one reason why I sail too, because sailing for me is like a pearl necklace, many ups and downs on a row. Experiences which make you stronger and more capable. It is a great thing to have a big dream and pursuing it, giving everything to reach your goal.”

Checking different boats & classes

NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “I was made aware of you by the facebook-algorithm which suggested you as a “fitting profile”, that was at the start of your Figaro 3-campaign. Tell me more about your experience with this racing boat.”

Lisa Berger: “In fact, Lars, it was a very, very spontaneous event! I initially had closed my sailing season for the year and thought it was over when by chance I kind of discovered this race. Since I am very interested in general in Figaro-racing, the boats and the class in general, it was a no-brainer. I called my co-skipper Alex who, by himself, didn´t hesitated for even a split-second and we inscribed for the event. It was a great, great experience, I can tell you.”

Ready for her Atlantic offshore adventure

NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “So, maybe Figaro after your Mini-campaign? Nice! Let´s talk about Classe Mini a bit more, what is so attractive about the 650 for you?”

Lisa Berger: “Well, these small but very sportive boats bring you extremely close to the elements. You have a relatively high sails-area which is surety for big fun! Also, racing the Classe Mini means that the skipper must not have any contact to the outside world so we are completely on our own, which is something that I find absolutely exciting too. This is really an incredible experience and I am absolutely amazed and excited of how I will perform during my first ever single handed Mini-race. I also like the comradery and spirit of the skippers within the class. It is like a small family. Out there on the Ocean you may be alone but somehow all skippers are kind of sailing together. A really great collective experience and a great community.”

Figaro 3 foiling action!

NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “You told me that only a few days ago you have been to France picking up your new Mini 650-boat. Which one is it and why this one?”

Lisa Berger: “My Mini is a Maxi 6.50 built by IDB Marine in Tregunc. It is a scow bow which, I admit, may look a bit odd at first but, well, this one and the current Pogo 3 are the fastest of the class at the moment. I especially like the dry sailing in the Maxi 6.50. The scow bow has so much buoyancy in the bow that there is virtually no spray when on a reaching course, planning over the waves, you just remain dry. Other Minis may behave like submarines in this matter, but not the Maxi.”

Enjoying these calm moments

NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “Tell me about your Mini Transat-ambitions. Which are the next steps of your campaign to sailing this race?”

Lisa Berger: “Well, the first event in 2022 will be the Plastimo Lorient. That´s a 230 miles doublehanded regatta starting on April 7th. When weather conditions are favorable, I plan to have my 1.000 miles solo nonstop qualification event for the Mini Transat, shortly followed by my first solo race on the new Mini, that will be in May. I extremely look forward to attending the Fastnet Race and another solo race from Les Sables d´Olonne to the Azores and back. I am very proud that for training I have been admitted to the Pôle Mini 650 La Rochelle because that´s a great occasion to learn for me. The big end-game will be Mini Transat 2023, next year which will be the reward for three years of hard work – 4.000 miles from Les Sables via Canary Islands to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.”

Scow bow Mini: New boat on the horizon

NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “You mentioned the Mini community. Do you have frequent contact with other skippers? Maybe Austrian Mini-sailors too?”

Lisa Berger: “During the Baltic 500 I was very happy to meet some German Mini 650 skippers. They welcomed me very heartily to the community and we are holding contact since then, which is very important for me as I can ask any questions and they share their precious knowledge. Regarding Austria, we just have one another Mini skipper, Christian Kargl, who has quite a career in the class since years and we keep holding contact since then as well.”

Hunting a Dehler 30 OD

NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “For most sailors I know, a transatlantic journey on just 6.50 meters is something they cannot grasp. Can you tell what the fascination of transat sailing on such a small boat means to you? Also, telling others around you, which “myths” or “phrases” do you hear frequently?”

Lisa Berger: (laughs) People absolutely frequently ask me if I am crazy. Others ask if I like to torture myself and indulge in pain. Also, people ask if you need to be especially brave. But I personally don´t think that Mini-skippers would like to describe themselves as being of such qualities. Looking at the guys attending these kind of races, you will notice that most of them are very, very different. Also different from each other. I´d say there is no “Mini-type”. Everybody tackles the task by his or her own – for the one it´s a huge sportive challenge, for the other it is just a big sailing adventure. No matter if young or old, if woman or a man – everybody has the same chances. And I think this is what counts in the end.”

Let´s get started!

NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “Let´s talk about money. Such a campaign, the boat, travel costs and equipment. It is a huge budget needed. Do you have a sponsor?”

Lisa Berger: “Yes and no. I am very happy to have some people around me who support me, also financially. This is why I was able to acquire this new boat. I am very thankful for their support and trust in me. What I need now is this one, or a handful of, big sponsor for the Mini Transat. This is actually the focus of 2022. But these bigger sponsors want to see first results and tat is why I attend the qualifying races, Fastnet and so on. For me, living in Austria which is not such a big sailing nation nor blessed with a coastline, it is a big task but I am very positive and sure that I will find my way.”

All the best, Lisa!

NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “I am sure, Lisa! Since two years the whole world is in a Corona-craze: How did the pandemic influence or change your sailing-live? Or, the other way round, has it changed it maybe for the good?”

Lisa Berger: “Well, as with everybody else on this planet, Covid in the first year stirred up my whole plan for the season. It was very much annoying but in the end everyone else was affected too. We had been lucky that the Classe Mini managed to get a permission to host races. But without spectators and the usual surrounding, which also makes the atmosphere of a sailing race, it was sad to do it the way we had to. But I am optimistic and I think we will get over it soon and things return to normal.”

NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “Last not least: When can we expect to receive the first pictures of you sailing the new boat?”

Lisa Berger: “That will be in two month, early April I would say and I am absolutely amazed and excited!”


Thanks so much, Lisa! I am so excited for you too and I wish a great splash, please keep us all updated – fair winds to you and a loud shoutout!


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