PGN Ocean Racing: The Road so Far

Quantum Sails first partnered with Peter Gibbons-Neff Jr. in 2021. In the years since, Peter has established himself in the Mini Transat Racing community, traveling the world and traversing oceans alone under the title, PGN Ocean Racing. Below is a comprehensive timeline of Peter’s road to qualifying for his first Mini Transat, set to begin this coming September.

Summer 2020

While most of the world was still shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions, offshore sailors were prepared for the Vendée Globe scheduled to start that coming November. This was the only professional sailing taking place at the time. At the same time, Peter prepared to transition away from serving for 10 years on active duty in the United States Marine Corps. Peter started following the French solo ocean racing circuit and was immediately hooked; he discovered that he wanted to pursue this type of racing. The 60 foot IMOCAs, Class40s, and Figaro 3 boats were well out of budget. However, the Classe Mini 6.50 was the best option for both cost and as a launching platform into the French solo offshore scene. Many of the French professional ocean racers started in the Mini fleet.

September 2020

Peter set his sights on competing in the Mini Transat, the pinnacle race for the Classe Mini 6.50. Over 4,000 nautical miles, solo, unassisted, on a 21’ high performance sailboat. 

Since Americans were still restricted from traveling to France at the time, he searched for Minis in the U.S. Coincidentally, the best prepared Mini was for sale in Annapolis, MD, where he lived. This boat had competed twice in the Bermuda 1-2 race, and even won its class. Peter bought the boat and named it Terminal Leave (a military term) since the Mini Transat was part of his transition plan off active duty.

Spring 2021

With the help from generous donors and sponsors, Peter prepared and shipped Terminal Leave from Annapolis over to France. 

Season One: May-September 2021

  • 3,400 nm sailed.
  • Two offshore races between the Bay of Biscay and English Channel (Spanning Normandy to Spain).
  • 1,000 nm solo qualification sail between Ireland and France.
    • Peter states, “That final night I experienced the most severe weather of the entire season. I was seriously concerned about breaking the boat and the rig due to the large, steep waves hitting the boat from multiple directions.” His full September SITREP blog post can be viewed on the PGN Blog, September SITREP — PGN Ocean Racing
  • End of Season Recap on PGN Blog.
    • “This journey is about reconnecting with the ocean and raising awareness for a military veteran group that I am deeply passionate in supporting.”
    • This season accomplished many objectives between shipping the boat to Europe, transitioning off active duty into the reserves, and successfully completing his first season of solo Mini racing.

Season Two: May-August 2022

  • 4,078 nm sailed.
  • Four offshore races (Bay of Biscay, Celtic Sea, Atlantic Ocean).
  • 2,600 nm race from France to Azores and back (two stages).
  • End of Season Recap on PGN Blog.
    • “This season I focused on fine tuning the boat, race strategy preparations, and performance.”
    • “The high points of this season consisted of officially qualifying for the upcoming Mini Transat (Sept 2023 start) and completing the Les Sables-Azores-Les Sables (SAS) Race. With back-to-back 1,300 nm long races and only 3.5 days in between, it was the ultimate preparation for racing across the Atlantic Ocean. I completed the SAS in a total of 24d, 5 hrs, and 50 mins.” 

Season Three: April 2023-Present

  • Completed one race (required for year of the Mini Transat).
  • Focused on final Mini Transat preparations.
  • With a massive surge in Classe Mini participation, every Mini race in France now has a registration waiting list and most skippers are only competing in one or two races of the Classe Mini season.
  • Having fully qualified for the Mini Transat, Peter spent the summer in Annapolis focused on fundraising, completing final administrative preparations, and racing with U.S. Patriot Sailing in events such as the Annapolis-Newport Race and the Governor's Cup.

Mini Transat: September 24, 2023

Peter is the only American competing in this year’s edition out of 90 skippers. As a competitor in the series boats for the Mini Transat, he has the seventh most miles raced in his boat out of the other fifty-nine series competitors. 

To learn more about Peter’s adventure or to support his efforts visit, PGN Ocean Racing. Make sure to check out Peter’s Blog for updates. Posts include regular Situation Reports (SITREP) and detailed After Action Reports (AAR) after each race.

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