Mini Transat: If it was easy…
Published on October 11th, 2019
(October 11, 2019; Leg 1, Day 7) – The leaders in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère have passed the latitude of Madeira this evening. Though they can almost glimpse the finish of this first leg to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the end of the course promises to be a bit of a struggle in light airs.
The first ETAs are likely from the morning of October 13. For now, François Jambou (prototype) and Ambrogio Beccaria (production boat) are holding rank up front. Astern, numerous competitors are lamenting technical woes, which are more or less complicated to deal with. On a pit stop since October 8 in La Coruña, Jonathan Chodkiewiez has announced his retirement.
At the 16:00 UTC position report, François Jambou (865) was only 200 miles from the finish, still trailed by Axel Tréhin (945) and Tanguy Bouroullec (969). Italian Ambrogio Beccaria (943), leader in the production boat category, had 270 miles to go at the same time. Given the expected weather conditions, that’s both a little and a lot!
Indeed, the wind is set to continue to drop away dramatically and the approach on the Canaries promises to be complicated. The front runners will have to exploit every little vein of breeze, which won’t be easy given the little weather information they have at their disposal. In both categories, there might well be a last-minute upset in the ranking.
David Kremer (260) is still on a pit stop in Baiona, in northern Spain, after the transom pulled out of his prototype, but two of David’s friends have hit the road to help him get the prototype out of the water and re-laminate and reinforce the transom. However, it’s a race against the clock to complete the repairs and head back out onto the racetrack within the 72 hours permitted for a pit stop.
Louis-Xavier Lamiraud (479) has made it to the port of Peniche, to the North of Lisbon. He’s broken the system connecting his autopilot and his back-up system isn’t playing ball. Louis-Xavier plans to effect repairs and hit the racetrack again as soon as possible.
At the request of Race Management, Luca Rosetti (342) has fired up his emergency positioning beacon. Luca is well and can now be located on the cartography once more.
Yann Blondel (836) will be stopping off at Leixões, near Porto, though he is yet to indicate the nature of the problems he’s encountered. Marie-Amélie Lénaerts (833) is experiencing an issue with her steering system. The Belgian sailor is currently hove to in a bid to repair it. Guillaume Coupé (906) has hit a UFO (unidentified floating object) and is checking his boat hasn’t suffered too much.
As for Morten Bogacki (934) and Damien Garnier (788), it’s likely they’re encountering autopilot problems. Valiantly bringing up the rear after his pit stop, Briton Joe Lacey is zigzagging his way around the north-west tip of Spain and in another 39 hours or so the wind should actually turn in his favour at last!
Ranking at 16:00 UTC
1- François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) 200.6 miles from the finish
2- Axel Tréhin (945 – Project Rescue Ocean) 25.5 miles behind the leader
3- Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Cerfrance) 38.9 behind the leader
1- Ambrogio Beccaria (943 – Geomag) 272.6 miles from the finish
2- Félix De Navacelle (916 – Youkounkoun) 22.6 behind the leader
3- Julien Letissier (869 – Reno Style) 27.6 behind the leader
The 87 Mini 6.50 solo sailors competing in the biennial Mini-Transat La Boulangère got underway from La Rochelle on the first leg to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on October 5. The Mini 6.50 Class has competition in two divisions: the prototypes and the production boats.
Production boats are built out of fiberglass, have alloy masts, 1.6 meter draft, and prohibit material such as titanium, carbon fiber, and epoxy resin. Ten boats must have been built to qualify as an official production boat.
Prototypes, on their side, are free of these restrictions and have been, for years, the very first laboratory for sailing innovations. Canting keels, daggerboards, swinging wing masts, long poles for huge spinnakers, have been tried first on minis. New hull shapes with very wide waterlines and foils are the now the latest innovations.
The first leg started October 5 (delayed from September 22 due to storms) from La Rochelle, France and extends 1350 nm to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. After an often complicated exit of the Bay of Biscay, sailors will expect some long slips down the Portuguese coast before arriving after 7 to 10 days in the Canary archipelago.
The second leg will start November 1 from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and will take from 15 to 20 sailing days to complete the 2700 nm course and reach Le Marin in Martinique, French West Indies. Due to the numerous islands, the restart from the Canary can be tricky before reaching the famous trade winds that offer a long downwind run.