Harken Derm

Mini Transat – Ready to take off on Tuesday

Published on November 10th, 2013

(November 10, 2013) – Thirty days have now elapsed between the theoretical start date of the 2013 Mini Transat, from Douarnenez and the new start date on Tuesday from Sada, close to La Coruna, for what will be the longest leg ever sailed in the history of the Mini Transat.

On the pontoons of Sada, the Mini 6.5m solo competitors are steadily getting into race mode. Computers are operating at full capacity, the latest weather files and the analysis of the best experts are tracked, compared, disected … only a few competitors remain at sea, the last have left the port of Moras and should arrive tonight.

Right now, everyone is in a hurry to the long wait to be over. They first had to wait in Douarnenez pending an unlikely weather window. A wait that was all the more infuriating because the two weeks of preparation for the Mini Transat took place in idyllic weather conditions. Two days earlier and the fleet would have comfortably been passing Cape Finisterre and then hurtling on Lanzarote.

This is something that the organisers will be exploring for the next edition, to be able to adjust a possible start by bringing it forward a few days if weather conditions require. In Douarnenez, the Race Director was watching for the best time to release the fleet. Every time a window seemed to open the next set of files contradicted the hope of finding the right moment.

Finally on October 29 the race could get underway in a west to northwesterly wind of 25 knots which eased during the first night. It was during this same night that the Race Director noted a further deterioration of the forecast and decided, as anticipated in the latest changes to the Sailing Instructions, to divert the fleet to Sada, after a first half leg. Unfortunately, the bad weather arrived faster than expected, and it was ultimately decided to stop the race and advise those competitors still a long way from the port of Sada to proceed to Gijon, where weather conditions were better.

In the great Asturian harbor everyone was once again waiting, this time to join up with the first competitors who had sought refuge in Sada. Despite the small number of boats in Sada, it was most logical that the entire fleet would rally at the Galician port: to have required the competitors at Sada to sail east to Gijon, would have been a kind of double jeopardy. Added to the frustration of not being able to receive a finishing position, would have been a useless delivery considering that the ultimate goal was to achieve the shortest route possible to pass Cape Finisterre. For the competitors sheltering in Gijon, it was now necessary to find a way to leave in convoy. The return to the west was not to be a sinecure: the passages around l’Estaca de Barres and Cape Ortegal was in angry seas and winds gusting up to 40 knots at times. Many competitors admitted that it was the first time they faced such difficult conditions.

Now all of our little family, or almost, are gathered at or near Sada to make the first start of this Mini Transat Douarnenez – Pointe a Pitre. From Monday the winds will shift to the north. The fleet will finally know the intoxication of surfing off-wind. After the hard graft comes the reward.

Original Race Schedule
Leg 1 – Douarnenez (France) to Puerto Calero (Lanzarote, Canary Islands): 1257 miles, 10-13 days.

Start from Douarnenez originally planned for October 13, 2013. Departure postponed to October 29 due to severe weather conditions on the race course. During Leg 1, the fleet was diverted to Sada, near La Coruna at the north west tip of Spain, to wait out strong weather. After the fleet was nearly two-thirds across the Bay of Biscay, this shortened leg was cancelled due to weather to allow competitors to reach port safely. A restart from Sada to Lanzarote was planned.

Leg 2 – Puerto Calero (Lanzarote, Canary Islands) to Pointe-à-Pitre (Guadeloupe): 2764 miles, 14-21 days.

Start from Canary Islands originally planned for November 9, 2013.

Event website: http://www.minitransat.fr/?lang=en

Story source: Event media

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