Mini Transat – South if you can
Published on November 21st, 2013
(November 21, 2013) – The anticyclone currently located immediately north-west of the Canaries is taking its toll. At the same time, the high pressure is causing the trade winds to move south. To find good breeze you have to go almost to the latitude of the Cape Verde Islands. But is the risk worth it?
After the Dantesque scenes of the early days, where it was almost impossible to slow the boats in aggressive seas, the sailors were finally able to enjoy some beautiful surfing conditions, accelerating effortlessly over a delightful background swell as they left Lanzarote in their wake.
But twenty- four hours on and the scene changes again. The trade winds are suffering from anemia and the new rule of the game is to hunt down the gusts on the water, trying to determine the best strategy for the coming days. For the leaders, the tension is growing as they find themselves reliving the fable of the tortoise and the hare. But the tortoises are struggle to hang on their advantage.
Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian), who is more than twenty miles ahead of Benoît Marie (benoitmarie.com) is still in an interesting strategic position because his nearest opponent has not created much offset. However Rémi Fermin (Boreal), who is further south, could pose a real threat to the two leaders. In the Series boats, Aymeric Belloir (Tout le Monde chante contre le Cancer) still has a comfortable lead over Jean-Baptiste Le Maire (L’Ouvre du Marin Breton). Behind this pair, the battle between Simon Koster (Go 4 it) and Justine Mettraux (TeamWork) could work to their advantage as they have managed to position themselves to the south. Meanwhile, others take advantage of what remains of the wind, like Florian Blanchard (MC Technologies) holder of the best performance of the day by a series boat, who is neck and neck with Pierre-François Dargnies (We-van.com). Both sailors sould profit from their proximity to get the best from their individual performances.
First think hard
The race has now been underway for more than eight days. The elders of the Mini know only too well that this is often an important threshold to cross. Up until this point, the race has been in high spirits, but now that the Atlantic opens wide on the bow and the Canaries begin to be just a distant memory comes the time for existential questions. “Am I really cut out for this? How will I endure another ten to twelve days at sea alone? Why does nobody respond to the VHF?” Some have the good fortune to sail in close company, but others, including the leaders are far enough from each other to be out of VHF range. In this situation, they must learn to focus on the race, being able to appreciate the simple pleasures in life … In this game, the elders of the Mini Transat are one step ahead of the freshmen. Bertrand Delesne (TeamWork Proto) is immune to this type of mishap. He knows why he is there and keeps the faith with his declared plan. He wants to sail as close to the great circle route as possible. His trajectory already shows the constancy of his strategy.
Tearing themselves away
Perhaps that the prospect of nearly two weeks in solitude explains why some of the survivors in Puerto Calero are struggling to cast off. For them, the race is now enclosed in parenthesis. The goal is to complete a story that, for some, began more than two years earlier. So naturally, you want to minimise all the risks: go over the rig just one more time, check all the little details we could underestimate at sea and, if possible, leave in unison. The remaining five should finally leave Lanzarote tonight, Nolwen de Carlan (Reality), François Guiffant (Scidiam), Eric Jézégou (Déphémérides – AM2I), Marc Dubos (CEPAT) and Louis Maauffret (Solidaires). On the south coast of Gran Canaria, Andrea Iacopini (Umpalumpa) intends to repair his spreader and put to sea as soon as possible . Tonight Giancarlo Pedote expects to pass the halfway point. It would be a pity not to be at the party in Guadeloupe. But for this you have to take the plunge and cross …
Diane Reid Dismasted
The Canadian sailor informed the race management, through a cargo ship which was passing nearby, that her mast has broken. She has not requested assistance and just wants to be supported upon her arrival in Lanzarote. She triggered the button on board to indicate that all is well.
The situation for the four soloists still docked in Lanzarote
- Richard Hewson (RG650.com) mast problems
- Hugues Cholet (Pour le Bel Espoir) had planned to stop at the outset
- Charles Boulanger (Foksamouille) has not clarified its intentions
- Federico Cuciuc (Your Sail) has not clarified its intentions
Ranking (prototype) at 16.00 (GMT +1)
1. Giancarlo Pedote (747 – Prysmian) with 1884.7 nm tto finish
2. Benoit Marie (667 – benoitmarie.com) + 200.1 nm
3. Rémi Fermin (741 – Boréal) + 1044.9 nm
4. Bruno Garcia (240 – Sampaquita) + 138.3 nm5.
5. Bertrand Delesne (754 – TeamWork Proto) + 179.5 nm
Ranking (series boats) at 16.00 (GMT +1)
1. Aymeric Belloir (810 – Tout le Monde chantte contre le Cancer) with 2014.4 nm to finish
2. Jean-Baptiste Lemaire (607 – Ouvre du Marin Breton) + 79.3 nm
3. Simomon Koster (819 – Go 4 it) + 81.8 nm
4. Justine Mettraux (824 – TeamWork) + 88.8 nm
5. Eric Cochet (Abers & Co) + 180 nm
The full rankings can be found online here.
Background: The biennial Mini Transat is a transatlantic race for solo Mini 6.5m competitors. The race has two legs: 1257 miles from France to Canary Islands, and 2764 miles from Canary Islands to Guadeloupe. Demand is high to compete. The race is limited to 84 racers, and each entrant must fulfill qualifying requirements. The race has a production division and a prototype division.
The start from Douarnenez was originally planned for October 13, but was postponed due to severe weather conditions on the race course. A weather window allowed for the start of the first leg of the Mini Transat 2013 on October 29, but worsening weather conditions forced the cancellation of this leg and the Mini Transat fleet found shelter in the ports on the north coast of Spain.
Seventy-three competitors restarted in Sada, Spain on November 13, with the race reduced to one 3700 mile leg direct to Pointe-à-Pitre.
Race website: http://www.minitransat.fr/