Mini Transat – The battle of the Atlantic

Published on December 1st, 2013

UPDATE: The skipper of benoitamarie.com crossed the finish line in Pointe-à-Pitre line at 17h 46m 05s local time (21h 46mn 05s GMT) on December 1. His total racing time was 18d 13h 01m 05s. His average speed over the course was 8.25 knots.

This is Benoît Marie’s first victory in a major single handed ocean race. In two years, his development has been linear. Considered a definite outsider at the start from Douarnenez, Benoît Marie has shown that he deserves his place in the major leagues.

(December 1, 2013) – As the finish looms for Benoît Marie (benoitmarie.com) and Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian), Guadeloupe dons her charming finery to create a welcome worthy of the two men who have been racing the battle of the Atlantic. Behind them we will have to wait twenty hours to see who steps into the final podium position.

Every morning at 9am GMT, the Race Director uses the BLU system to transmit a complete weather report followed the daily ranking to the fleet. No position data is given for each vessel, only the distance still to go to the finish. In yesterday’s ranking, Saturday 30 November, Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian) knew he possessed a thirty mile buffer on his immediate opponent Benoît Marie (benoitmarie.com). In this morning’s ranking he could hear the voice of Denis Hughes, the Race Director, telling him he had dropped to second, ten miles behind his opponent.

We can only presume that the Italian navigator suffered a technical problem and knew that the gap would be reduced. But no doubt he hoped to keep a small leeway. The announcement of the ranking had to be psychologically hard to take for Giancarlo after leading the fleet almost continuously since the departure from Sada. Being overtaken on the final straight is without doubt one of the worst things for a competitor. However, one can easily imagine the divine surprise for Benoît Marie. Always on the attack since the start of the race, Benoît little expected such a feast and has, no doubt, an extra spring in his step following the announcement of the ranking. Now he needs to harness this new motivation to the finish line.

Rémi Fermin is resisting
Still the battle for third place is fierce, the skipper of Boreal refuses to seed to the attacks of Bertrand Delesne (TeamWork Proto) and Bruno Garcia (Sampaquita). The Mediterranean skipper wanted to take revenge on the Mini Transat after a dismasting ruined his hopes of placing in the last edition.

In the series boats, Aymeric Belloir (Tout le Monde Chante contre le Cancer) continues to lead Justine Mettraux (TeamWork) and Simon Koster (Go 4 It). The third ranked prototype should cross the line tomorrow afternoon (local time).

Trade winds “light”
For the bulk of the fleet, this should be the final few hours of hassle. The stormy depression which seriously disrupted the Minis parade to Guadeloupe is gradually draining away to the north-east, giving way to a regime of winds which are is still light for the trades. But at least it means that, little by little, the fleet will return to downwind sailing, heading for the Caribbean. Whatever comes their way they will grab with both hands.

To follow the arrivals
– Live on the social networks Facebook and Twitter
– On the map, updating every 10 minutes in a 10 mile radius of arrival
– Flash reports live from the course
– Online reactions from the winner in mp3
– Finish +2 hours: On line on Dailymotion – a video of the arrival and on the website of a photo album of the arrival.

Ranking (proto types) at 16.00 (GMT +1)
1. Benoit Marie (667 – benoitmarie.comm) with 71.6 nm to arrival
2. Giancarlo Pedote (747 – Prysmian) + 14.9 nm
3. Rémi Fermin (741 – Boréal) + 193.5 nm
4. Bertrand Delesne (754 – TeamWork Proto) + 237.5 nm
5. Bruno Garcia (240 – Sampaquita) + 244.2 nm

Ranking (series boats) at 16.00 (GMT +1)
1. Aymeric Belloir (810 – Tout le Monde chante contre le Cancer) with 459.6 nm to finish
2. Justine Mettraux (824 – TeamWork) + 201.8 nm
3. Simon Koster (819 – Go 4 it) + 314.4 nm
4. Jean-Baptiste Lemaire (607 – Ouvre du Marin Breton) + 573.4 nm
5. Renaud Mary (www.runo.fr) + 629.7 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, with a gate at the Canary Islands for safety.

Race website: http://www.minitransat.fr/

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