Mini Transat: Podium full for first leg
Published on October 14th, 2019
(October 14, 2019; Leg 1, Day 10) – The finish of the first leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère, which had 87 solo skippers see the start delayed from September 22 until October 5 for the 1350 nm course from La Rochelle, France to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, has filled the podium today in both the Prototype and Production Divisions.
The final miles unfolded with incredible suspense in very light airs, with victory uncertain until Axel Tréhin was first across the finish line (at 02:36 UTC) after 8 days, 17 hours, 58 minutes and 28 seconds of racing. Taking second was François Jambou (6 minutes and 22 seconds behind the winner) and Tanguy Bouroullec (26 minutes and 07 seconds after the first place).
1st Axel Tréhin (Project Rescue Ocean):
This first leg really had it all. There was breeze, less breeze, some upwind, some downwind and a bit of reaching…. There were moments where strategy was called for and others where pure speed was the order of the day.
It was really interesting. We were expecting it to be a fairly quick straight line run after Cape Finisterre. In the end the game opened right back up and it was important to be versatile. I was beginning to fret yesterday. I said to myself that François (Jambou) and Tanguy (Bouroullec) had got there before the wind died, but then I heard some chatter on the VHF and understood that they were stuck next to each other. I was absolutely stoked!
I positioned myself to the right of them and that’s exactly where the fresh breeze came from. I drew virtually level with them with the pressure. At the last minute, there was a big lift to the right, like a gift from heaven and that was it, a done deal! There is precious little separating me from François and Tanguy, we’re tied, except I won!
That’s a great feeling going forward and certainly better than last time where I was 2nd in the first leg. Next up, I want to sail a good second leg to finish off the job. We’re really going to be given a run for our money so it’ll be a heck of a battle, but I’m not worried!
2nd François Jambou (Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune):
I found this leg tough. Mentally, windless zones are complicated. The descent along the coast of Portugal was boisterous and you could easily have broken everything. To my mind, the boat was leaping like never before. The waves were really steep and it felt like the boat was going to open up every time.
I had a great lead of up to 40 miles. When I arrived off Gran Canaria there was 10 knots of breeze and I couldn’t see anyone on the AIS. I thought I had the race in the bag, but that’s not how things panned out at all. Axel and Tanguy came back into the game with the pressure and there was nothing I could do. Axel was driving in at 8 knots and I was making 0. I got going again once he was beside me but I didn’t have the right sail.
It’s hard to finish 2nd when you’ve led for five days, but that’s also what makes offshore racing so great; the fact that there are always twists and turns. It’s a race and we’re all keen to win. But I’m 2nd and I’m not going to be a spoilsport. I was beaten by a very good sailor. I’ve satisfied the objective I had at the start; I’m still in the game. Axel, Tanguy and I are tied. Outright victory is still very much within our grasp. I’m determined to succeed in the second leg.
3rd Tanguy Bouroullec (Cerfrance):
I’m really happy to have made the finish and secured a spot on the podium! It was one hell of a finish with Axel and François. There was a lot of suspense at the end. It didn’t work out for me, but the gap isn’t catastrophic. I’d been trying to make a comeback for the past 3-4 days so as to limit the damage, because I knew that François had the edge. I lost some ground when I tore my medium spinnaker along the coast of Portugal so I finished the leg under-canvassed.
All three of us arrived in Las Palmas together. Axel had a 7-mile deficit a few hours ago and just managed to overtake us at the end. It’s pretty crazy! After that, François and Axel finished with a match race two miles in front of me. It cost me a 26-minute deficit in the end but I’ll take that. It’s still all to play for in the second leg!
The exit from the Bay of Biscay wasn’t easy. Two fronts rolled over the top of us. After that, the sea was really violent in the Portuguese trade winds. I had some breakage. It wasn’t easy. For two and half days it was pretty hard in fact and it was important to reduce your sail area so as not to break everything. The rest of the leg from there was fairly quiet.
We had to dig deep to make up the ground on François, but conditions were nice. A bit of breeze and sunshine, the perfect way to finish! I wasn’t able to really put the foils to good use. I didn’t fly in the Portuguese trade wind, instead I was trying to stall my progress so as to avoid damage. However, they did enable me to make up some ground on François, and I made good headway.”
Crossing the finish line at 04:30 UTC, Ambrogio Beccaria took the win in the first leg after 8 days, 19 hours, 52 minutes and 07 seconds of racing. Event favourite in the production boat category, the Italian skipper held rank despite a complex scenario and a tightly bunched pack of pursuers on his tail. Félix De Navacelle secured second place, 1 hour and 43 minutes behind Ambrogio and Matthieu Vincent completed the podium (2 hours and 40 minutes behind the winner).
1st Ambrogio Beccaria (Geomag):
I am so happy! I didn’t think I was in the lead. Yesterday morning, I didn’t listen to the weather and the rankings as I was sure I’d lost all the lead I’d had overnight. I thought everyone was positioned to the West and with the breeze kicking back in from the South-West, I believed I’d lost it all, especially as I knew that Félix was very close.
As such, I stopped myself sleeping and eating for at least 15 hours in a bid to sail as quickly as possible and not have any regrets. I seriously doubted myself. I told myself that it wasn’t serious, that if I was third that was still good. I first started doubting that when I heard the sailors on the prototypes talking over the VHF and thought how strange it was. In the end, I discovered that everyone was positioned to the East.
I’ve taken the win in this first leg and it’s really very cool! We had some very varied conditions. I wasn’t expecting a leg like that at all. It was very hard on the nerves. Exiting Biscay was complicated: the pressure at the start, the sea state, everyone was a bit sick… After that, we really pushed hard along the coast of Portugal to end up with these calm conditions at the finish.
It was terrible! I’m pleased to have been the first to finish. After that, it’s a race against the clock. If I’m first with a 10-minute lead that’s not very much, if it’s 2-3 hours that’s already better. So I’m awaiting the arrival of Félix, I don’t know where he is.
2nd Félix De Navacelle (Youkounkoun):
It’s been great to have managed to hold onto this position since Cape Finisterre! Over the last two days, when you see how far it is to the finish, you say to yourself that you really have to pull out all the stops to hang on in there. The best moment was when I heard over the daily link-up that I was first for the first time: total ecstasy! That’s also where I discovered the pressure of no longer having anyone to chase.
I tried all I could to ensure I had no regrets. There are plenty of times where you’re latent and unable to motivate yourself to do things. I forced myself to move, to stay active and clear-headed. I stuck to the recommended slots for sleeping.
I’m ready to go again! I really got into the rhythm and I was really at ease aboard. The boat worked fantastically well. I had to climb to the top of the mast twice. Little adventures in themselves. I believe I managed to have fun in this race, which isn’t necessarily that easy on a Mini when you’re flat out.
3rd Matthieu Vincent (L’Occitane en Provence):
I’m third?! Ah, I wasn’t aware! Wow, that’s great! It’s been a long hard battle. It took me 2-3 days to get into it as it was a bit hard to leave the family and I felt a lot of nostalgia. We had it all out there, happy times and some very tough times. I had a fair amount of damage, but just learning that I’m third makes me forget all the hardships I’ve had over the past 8 days. It’s incredible.
It was a great leg but also very hard psychologically. As usual, I’ve struggled with the solitude and remoteness. As soon as you have people around you it’s okay, but as soon as I end up on my own, it’s hard to deal with. To my mind the Mini-Transat really is a personal challenge rather than my idea of fun. Today, I feel pretty proud of myself.
I had a fair few incidents during this leg. I did a somersault! I knew the bow was burying in but not to that extent. I was on my knees putting a reef in the mainsail and the boat was submerged up to her mast almost and I was projected overboard. I ended up in the water, the boat drove down and then broached at 90°. It was mega full-on… On top of that I had to scale the mast for the first time at night, something I’ve never done and it was an opportunity to try it!
The end of the course was cool. Battling with Amélie, Nico and Julien was really nice. We really had some good conditions, we were able to get some rest and get back into a normal rhythm of life, because quite honestly along the coast of Portugal it was really hardcore. Now it’s time to make the most of the atmosphere, friends and family who will come along and savour the good times.
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.
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.