Mini Transat: In the Trades
Published on November 7th, 2019
(November 7, 2019; Leg 2; Day 6) – Most of the fleet of 82 Mini 6.50 solo sailors in the second leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère are now in the trades. The trio of Jambou, Beccaria, Ferré is continuing its route leaving very little room for tactical error, the whole performance posted at a furious pace (an average of around 10 knots over the past 24 hours).
In a favorable trade wind (ENE’ly of 15-20 knots), that is not very stable in terms of position, the slightest error can cost dearly. As such, it’s vital to anticipate the wind shifts as best they can so as to choose the right moment to gybe, which is what the three leaders in this 22nd edition are excelling at. Indeed, it’s easy to imagine that ‘concentration’ and ‘rigour’ are the keywords on board right now.
In light of the very different headings within the prototype fleet, even for those boats that are fairly close to one another, we can fairly easily deduce that the wind is rather unstable in strength and direction on the race zone. On the provisional podium, the speed of Tanguy Bouroullec in relation to his direct rivals (just 6 knots over the last 24 hours) and a less than aggressive trajectory, left little doubt that he has some issues aboard after sailing a great race thus far.
Via a support boat, Race Management has been informed that his stay chainplate has partially collapsed and the bowsprit ball joint is out of action. The skipper is well and is calmly goosewinging his way along until he can work out a fix. For his part, David Kremer (260 – Bon Pied Bon Œil) is proving to be a model of efficiency since his false start in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Indeed, after returning to port for 90 minutes to resolve an issue with his autopilot, he has climbed back up to 14th place in just 2 gybes.
Meantime, Marie Gendron (930 – Cassiopée-SNCF) is gambling everything on a very southerly option in a bid to get back into the match after her pit stop to repair a keel fairing and spinnaker pole.
Storm Amelie is continuing to cause havoc within the production fleet. Indeed, she too left Las Palmas de Gran Canaria astern of the vast majority of the fleet after returning to port for two hours to replace her stay fitting. However, Amélie Grassi (944 – Action Enfance) has gradually been picking off the fleet, one place at a time, and is now lying in 23rd position out of 61 after a little less than five days of racing.
In the top group, Félix De Navacelle (916 – Youkounkoun) and Lauris Noslier (893 – Avoriaz 1800) have repositioned themselves in line with the leaders after a well-played S’ly option. The battle for the third step of the podium is likely to rage right to the wire.
As was the case during the first leg, the 2 Ofcets skippered by Anne Beaugé (890 – Ellesaimentlamer) and Adrien Bernard (896 – Mini Yak) are stuck to each other like glue. Finally, at the tail end of the fleet, the wind looks to have more NE’ly in it, enabling a virtually direct course on starboard for the back runners.
Further North, a rainy and stormy zone with no wind has been travelling westwards smack bang along the great circle route (shortest route) for some days, blocking the direct route to the West Indies and forcing the Minis to pass to the South of it.
A group of around fifteen sailors, led by the skipper who was 3rd in the production fleet in leg 1, Matthieu Vincent (947 – L’occitane En Provence), had been focusing on a N’ly option but have ended up being bogged right down in it. They can but hope that the fines aren’t too heavy and the trade winds return to the zone within a couple of days.
Ranking at 16:00 UTC:
1- François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) 1,488.1 miles from the finish
2- Axel Tréhin (945 – Project Rescue Ocean) 99.7 miles behind the leader
3- Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Cerfrance) 146.8 miles behind the leader
1- Ambrogio Beccaria (943 – Geomag) 1,518.6 miles from the finish
2- Benjamin Ferré (902 – Imago Incubateur D’aventures 45.2 miles behind the leader
3- Félix De Navacelle (916 – Youkounkoun) 76.8 miles behind the leader
The biennial Mini-Transat La Boulangère has competition for the Mini 6.50 Class 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.
Eighty-seven started the first leg on 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.
Eighty-two started the second leg on 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.