Mini Transat: Breathless Atlantic

Published on October 6th, 2017

(October 6, 2017; Day 6) – The wind is continuing to ease across the race zone for the Mini-Transat racers, in cruising terms, conditions could best be described as relaxing; sunny climes, seas becoming increasingly calm, light to moderate breeze, perfect conditions for idling about. However, the distinctive feature of offshore racers is that they always want to go faster, at the risk of sacrificing some of the fun element.

Out on the water, Ian Lipinski (Griffon.fr) is continuing to resist the attacks from those in hot pursuit. Indeed, despite conditions which don’t really favor his type of hull, he’s managing to hold onto the advantage he has so masterfully racked up over his direct rivals in what is a true sign of the strength of this firm favorite in this 2017 edition.

In the space of two years, Ian has learnt to be completely at one with his machine, erasing any weaknesses along the way. All that’s left are assets, which he knows just how to make the most of the moment conditions allow. It is no insult to Jörg Riechers (Lilienthal) to make the observation that his prototype still has some room for improvement; after all it is just three months since she was launched. However, we can certainly count on the German sailor to progress in leaps and bounds.

In the production boat category, Clarisse Crémer (TBS) is reminding one and all that she is a force to be reckoned with and like Tanguy Bouroullec (Kerhis Cerfrance) she is right on the pace of the race. The option to the west has paid off and now it will be important to contain the horde of pursuers. From Erwan Le Draoulec (Emile Henry) to the Swiss sailor Valentin Gauthier (Shaman- Banque du Léman) and to Rémi Aubrun (Alternative Sailing – Constructions du Belon), everyone is very much in contention for victory.

In these light airs, one will also have to reckon on a possible comeback by the Pogo 2s. One thing for sure: they’ll have to be patient, not let down their guard, constantly monitor the trim and be able to take the helm whenever the autopilot isn’t performing on point, the light airs can become exhausting at times.

A whole team has landed on the pontoons in La Coruña to come and assist Julien Mizrachi (UNAPEI) and Fred Guérin (Les-amis.fun). A fully equipped mast is on the menu for the former, transported via a trailer on the back of a lorry, along with lamination material and a few seasoned specialists. Yes indeed, the Mini solidarity has pulled it out of the bag once again.

Meantime Fred Guérin knows that he’ll be outside the time limit to officially head back onto the racetrack, but his holy grail lies elsewhere. At 62 years of age, he has a fourth Mini-Transat to complete and it’s out of the question not to get back out there. He may not be able to be ranked, but we can bet that his arrival will be celebrated just as warmly as all the others, if not better. The Mini-Transat relishes a great story.

Ranking at 15:00 UTC

Prototypes
1 Ian Lipinski – Griffon.fr – 51.2 miles to the finish
2 Arthur Léopold-Léger – Antal XPO – 12.8 miles behind the leader
3 Romain Bolzinger – Spicee.com sa – 42.8 miles behind the leader
4 Simon Koster –Eight Cube Ser- 56.6 miles behind the leader
5 Aurélien Poisson – TeamWork – 69.4 miles behind the leader

Production boats
1 Clarisse Crémer – TBS 589.8 miles to the finish
2 Tanguy Bouroullec – CERFRANCE – Kerhis – 1.8 miles behind the leader
3 Erwan Le Draoulec – Emile Henry – 3.9 miles behind the leader
4 Valentin Gautier – Shaman – Banque du Léman – 12.7 miles behind the leader
5 Rémi Aubrun – Alternative Sailing – Constructions du Belon – 13.8 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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