Mini Transat: Food is Fuel

Published on October 28th, 2015

Lanzarote, Canary Islands (October 28, 2015) – The competitors of the Mini Transat îsles de Guadeloupe are starting to get restless. After more than three weeks in port for the first stopover, they are eager to get racing, to finally take on the Atlantic crossing they have all been dreaming about. But, to reach the other side of the duck pond fit and clear-headed, they will need to properly organise their food and drink supplies.

“In 2013 I consumed mainly freeze-dried food… on arrival in Guadeloupe, I swore to myself: never again,” comments Ludovic Méchin (Microvitae), recognising the aromas of delicious fresh food and satisfying his taste buds are a great assistance to performance. Without the pleasure of eating, the solo sailor can get demoralised, so essential in this second leg where all are aware of the risk of sailing cut off from all ties to the outside world.

Overall, the racers try to find the right balance between several constraints – the first of them being the weight. On the Minis, it is not so essential to have only freeze-dried foods, since the competitors will not have a desalinator on board. The advantage of preserved vacuum-packed food quickly becomes apparent, especially since both the taste and texture are closer to homemade food.

And there is always room for some delicacies: aboard Nautipark, Fred Denis has already thought about the long hours of solitude on the Atlantic: “I found a good bread that should keep for more than a week, with a little parma ham, something for the sweet tooth also, energizing powders to mix with water, just for a little pleasurable variety…”

Tanguy Le Turquais (Terréal) has had all his food, mostly preserved, vacuum-packed, brought over from France. Everything is codified and planned to strike a balance between enjoyment and efficiency.

“You also need to have something to snack on right away,” counsels Ludovic Méchin. “Sometimes, getting down inside the Mini to prepare food is simply impossible. That’s why I carry a lot of dried fruit. And grapefruits! They keep well and it’s so good to still have fresh fruit after several days at sea.”

Others have opted for more minimalist solutions, like Carl Chipotel (Gwadloop!): “For me, freeze-dried will be my lot! I will wait until arriving home to find the flavours of the Antilles.”

For the second leg, the racers will be allowed to take on board 120 litres of water or various edible liquids. That is, about 6 litres of water per day on a basis of 20 days of racing. This may seem a lot, but all the doctors’ opinions converge: in hot weather, a skipper should drink from three to four litres of water per day to avoid becoming dehydrated. Anything less can lead to the mental faculties suffering. A dehydration of 10% would amount to a sleep deficit of several hours. To stay clear-headed, the racers need to be thinking of drinking without moderation.

The three week break in Lanzarote has also allowed the racers to get to know each other better, establish different relationships than those that are possible in the heat of the preparation of a start or just after a race. Those who stayed in Lanzarote during the stopover formed close ties.

A competitor passing the pontoons of the Marina Lanzarote spontaneously checks the mooring of a competing boat; another exchanges his weather information and the first planned routes. They exchange equipment and give each other good tips. There is always a helping hand to climb up a mast or to clean the hulls. Real friendships were forged during the stopover and it will be harder, perhaps, for those who did not stay, to catch up. In three days, everything will be back to normal.

Key Figures
The Race
72 boats
26 protos
46 series
7 support boats

The Skippers
68 men
4 women
52 rookies
20 return competitors
33 years average age
The youngest: 22 years old (Julien Hereu and Quentin Vlamynck)
The oldest: 56 years old (Carlos Lizancos)
15 nationalities

The Course
4021nm, 2 stopovers, 3 towns
Douarnenez – Lanzarote 1257nm
Lanzarote – Pointe-à-Pitre 2764nm

Key Dates
7th October 2015 – Prize Giving 1st Stage in Lanzarote
24th October 2015 – Prologue and Prize Giving (Lanzarote)
31st October 2015 – Start 2nd Stage: Lanzarote – Point-à-Pitre (Guadeloupe)
14th November 2015 – Estimated arrival time for the first boat at Point-à-Pitre

Race websiteRace programTracker

Report by race media.

Background: For the 20th edition and for the second time, the Mini Transat – Îles de Guadeloupe returns to its origins with a start from Douarnenez (France). The Breton harbour had a fleet of 72 solo sailors set off on September 19 to Lanzarote (Canary Islands), where the Mini 6.50 will complete stage one of the race. The second stage will start on October 31, taking the fleet across the Atlantic to finish some three weeks later in Pointe-à-Pitre (Guadeloupe).


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