Mini Transat: Crawling to the climax

Published on October 12th, 2019

(October 12, 2019; Leg 1, Day 8) – The final miles of the first leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère are a tense finale with a very light breeze, that fades away to nothing at times on the outskirts of the Canaries.

In the prototype category, François Jambou has a slight edge this evening, but Tanguy Bouroullec and Axel Tréhin remain poised to attack at the mere sniff of an opportunity. In the production boat category, it’s a nail-biting battle between Ambrogio Beccaria and Félix de Navacelle, and their pursuers are waiting in ambush.

The first prototypes might well conclude this battle tomorrow afternoon, and the leaders on the production boats arriving early on October 14. Following the retirement of Jean-Baptiste Ternon this morning, the third since the start of the race a week ago, 84 competitors are still racing.

One can well imagine that after a week of demanding racing, the final of this first leg will require the competitors to dig deep into their mental and physical reserves. To make matters worse, the sailors have no way of knowing exactly the location of their adversaries.

Among the prototypes, François Jambou (865) has less than 100 miles to go now (96 miles at the 16:00 UTC position report). In a well-established trade wind, this distance could be lapped up pretty quickly. However, in the very light airs he’s encountering, it could be another story entirely.

With a 30-mile lead this evening over his closest rivals, Tanguy Bouroullec (969) and Axel Tréhin (945), François has some room for manoeuvre and looks like he may be hard to catch. But in sailing you can never say never of course.

In the production boats, it’s incredibly tight between Félix de Navacelle (916) and Ambrogio Beccaria (943). Slightly over to the East, Julien Letissier (869), is totally in the match too and may well be able to reap the benefits of this positioning. A solid group of boats remains in ambush too with Matthieu Vincent (947), Guillaume L’Hostis (868), Amélie Grassi (944) and Nicolas d’Estais (905) all eager for a share of the spoils. To make a difference in this situation, it’ll be important to be opportunistic!

Of the 87 sailors who took the start in La Rochelle last week, 84 are still racing. This morning, Jean-Baptiste Ternon (880) announced his official retirement to Race Management. On a pit stop in Muxia, he was unable to resolve his energy problems. He’s the third sailor to retire from the race after Czech skipper Pavel Roubal (908) and Jonathan Chodkiewiez (958).

David Kremer (260) has repaired the transom on his prototype after an epic pit stop and a helping hand from two mates. He’ll be thrilled to have relaunched the boat and left the pontoons of the port of Baiona. Demonstrating great seamanship, he’s anchored up in the bay, alone and in race mode, waiting for a front to roll through before continuing to make for the Canaries, once the wind has shifted round to the North-West.

Meantime, Louis-Xavier Lamiraud (479) set sail again today from Peniche. Still stopped in Camarinas, Briton Joe Lacey (963) has planned to hit the racetrack again tomorrow at around 07:00 UTC with the arrival of more favourable conditions. As for Yann Blondel (836), he has safely arrived in Leixões, where he’s intending to resolve his energy issues.

Among the sailors encountering technical issues but not planning to make a pit stop are Spaniard Miguel Rondon (energy problems), Pole Michal Adam Weselak (broken bowsprit attachment) and Clément Machetel (who’s trying to repair some kind of damage he is yet to detail).

Ranking at 16:00 UTC

1- François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) 96.7 miles from the finish
2- Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Cerfrance) 29.7 miles behind the leader
3- Axel Tréhin (945 – Project Rescue Ocean) 35.9 miles behind the leader

1- Ambrogio Beccaria (943 – Geomag) 167.3 miles from the finish
2- Félix De Navacelle (916 – Youkounkoun) 7.2 miles behind the leader
3- Julien Letissier (869 – Reno Style) 19.6 miles behind the leader

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Eighty-seven 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.

Race Format:
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.

Source: Effetsmer

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