Mini Transat: Making the turn

Published on October 5th, 2017

(October 5, 2017; Day 5) – The first waypoint of the Mini-Transat is done and dusted as nearly all of the solo sailors have made the turn at Cape Finisterre and have commenced the southbound course along the Portual coast. Offshore of Lisbon, the fleet is beginning to re-centre itself after putting in a massive leg towards the south-west. The speeds are slowly decreasing, but progress remains perfectly respectable.

To stand a chance of winning an offshore race you need a good boat, mounds of preparation, and also a bit of luck on your side, which is something that some sailors have been lacking. For example, Antoine Cornic (Destination Île de Ré) has been deprived of his autopilot and forced to dump his sails for a few hours each day so he can get some rest.

Also lamenting their share of technical glitches has been Cédric Faron (Marine Nationale) and Camille Taque (Foxsea Lady) with big energy problems. Moreover, Camille has indicated to one of the support boats that she’ll regularly have to go hove to in order to get some rest. Finally, Lina Rixgens (Mini Doc) has broken the connecting rod between her two rudders. Meanwhile, Slobodan Velikic (Sisa 2) is clearly making towards land. Race Management has diverted a support boat to identify the problem, however the Croatian sailor has not requested assistance.

However, it is all over for Luca Sabiu (Vivere la Vela). Beset by recurring technical issues since the start, the Italian sailor set off his distress beacon last night and has been airlifted by helicopter to La Coruña by the Spanish Navy.

Meantime, also in La Coruña, the two skippers with damaged masts are busying themselves with effecting repairs and hope to head back out onto the racetrack as quickly as possible. From tomorrow morning, they’re likely to get a visit from a unit of ‘commandos’ made up of former racers and friends, with gifts ranging from lamination specialisms, to new shrouds, to multiple talents and plenty of goodwill… Certain pontoons in the port of La Coruña are clearly going to be a hive of activity.

Meantime, Erwan le Mené (Rousseau Clôtures) is heading back offshore again after a change of course earlier in the day. Most likely, the sailor from the Breton sailing hub of the Morbihan, suffered damage such as a broken spinnaker pole and was forced to head towards calmer waters temporarily. His outlay has ultimately cost him 40 miles in relation to the head of the fleet.

Among those competing in the production boat category, Rémi Aubrun (Alternative Sailing – Constructions du Belon) has opted to go it alone. Indeed, whilst all his pursuers are continuing to set a course for the south-west, he has opted to be the first to re-centre himself. This evening, the lateral separation between him and Erwan Le Draoulec (Emile Henry) is over 50 miles so it’s very much game on, particularly in light of the uncertainty clouding the coming hours.

Ranking at 15:00 UTC

Prototypes
– 1 Ian Lipinski – Griffon.fr – 677.6 miles from the finish
– 2 Arthur Léopold-Léger – Antal XPO – 20.6 miles behind the leader
– 3 Simon Koster –Eight Cube Sersa – 25.1 miles behind the leader
– 4 Romain Bolzinger – Spicee.com – 36.4 miles behind the leader
– 5 Aurélien Poisson – TeamWork – 41.6 miles behind the leader

Production boats
– 1 Rémi Aubrun – Alternative Sailing – Constructions du Belon – 723.4 miles from the finish
– 2 Erwan Le Draoulec – Emile Henry – 2.4 miles behind the leader
– 3 Clarisse Crémer – TBS 9.9 miles behind the leader
– 4 Yannick Le Clech – Dragobert – 9.9 miles behind the leader
– 5 Tanguy Bouroullec – CERFRANCE – Kerhis – 14.7 miles behind the leader

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Race Facts
· Sunday 1 October: Start of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère in La Rochelle, France
· 21st edition
· 4,050 miles to cover between La Rochelle – Las Palmas in Gran Canaria and Le Marin (Martinique)
· 81 skippers at the start
· 10 women
· 11 nationalities
· 20 years: age of the youngest skipper in the race: Erwan Le Draoulec
· 62 years: age of the oldest skipper in the race: Fred Guérin
· 25 prototypes
· 56 production boats
· 66 rookies
· 15 ‘repeat offenders’

Background
With an overall length of 6.50m and a sail area pushed to the extreme at times, the Mini Class offers incredibly seaworthy boats. Subjected to rather draconian righting tests and equipped with reserve buoyancy making them unsinkable, the boats are capable of posting amazing performances in downwind conditions… most often to the detriment of comfort, which is rudimentary to say the least.

The Mini Transat has two legs to carry the fleet from La Rochelle, France to Martinique, West Indies. The leg from La Rochelle to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a perfect introduction to proceedings before taking the big transatlantic leap.

The first leg starts on October 1, with the fleet thrust into the Bay of Biscay which can be tricky to negotiate in autumn, while the dreaded rounding of Cape Finisterre on the north-west tip of Spain marks a kind of prequel to the descent along the coast of Portugal. Statistically, this section involves downwind conditions, often coloured by strong winds and heavy seas. Making landfall in the Canaries requires finesse and highly developed strategic know-how.

The second leg begins on November 1, with the solo sailors most often carried along by the trade wind in what tends to be a little over two weeks at sea on average. At this point, there’s no way out: en route to the West Indies, there are no ports of call. The sailors have to rely entirely upon themselves to make Martinique.

Source: Aurélie BARGAT | Effets Mer

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