Clean start for Mini Transat fleet
Published on November 2nd, 2019
(November 2, 2019) – The start of the second leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère got underway today in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, sending the anticipated fleet of 82 women and men on the 2,700-mile passage to Le Marin, in Martinique.
The fleet of Mini 6.50 solo sailors set off in trade wind conditions of around fifteen knots, which is due to build as the competitors get clear of the Canary Islands. The weather is forecast to be good, favouring a rapid passage to the final finish line.
Axel Tréhin (prototype) and Ambrogio Beccaria (production) are leading the way at the end of the first leg, but there is little separating the chasing pack and this second act may completely reshuffle the cards.
The fleet was reduced before the Leg 2 start when Hendrik Witzmann withdrew after his 16th place finish in the production division, a result of suffering from a knee injury (torn meniscus). This leaves 21 in the prototype fleet and 61 in the production boat fleet.
Two sailors suffered some minor technical issues just before they took the start. Raphaël Lutard noticed his antenna attachment had come loose and returned to port to scale his mast and resolve the problem and then immediately headed back out onto the racetrack, crossing the start line just quarter of an hour after the rest of the fleet. Also, David Kremer suffered some problems with his autopilot, returning to port and finally crossed the start line 1hr30 after the rest of the fleet.
Worse news came from Amélie Grassi (5th in the first leg among the production boats) who damaged her bowsprit. Meantime, Marie Gendron (4th in the first leg among the prototypes) reported various technical issues. They’ll both be returning to the marina in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria where they’re expected to make landfall this evening to determine their options. Russian sailor Fedor Druzhinin, who encountered some problems with his mast wand, is trying to resolve within the protection of the coast.
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 started November 2 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.