Mini Transat: Midway Mark

Published on November 8th, 2019

(November 8, 2019; Leg 2; Day 7) – Among the 82 Mini 6.50 solo sailors, François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) and Ambrogio Beccaria (943 – Geomag), the respective leaders in the Prototype and Production boat category in this 2nd leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère 2019, are at the midway mark in the course between Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Le Marin in Martinique after just five days of racing.

At the 16:00 UTC position report, they are respectively 1,314.8 and 1,348.1 nautical miles from Le Marin in Martinique. Though for now, the French and Italian skippers have negotiated the wind shifts in the trades to perfection, this time the head of the fleet will have to deal with a more complicated transition as the zone of rain and storms currently to the North moves westwards and sweeps in on them.

In the process, the front runners will likely slow: “They’ll have to be super vigilant so as they don’t get snatched up by this zone and can continue making good their escape via the South.

“Conditions are likely to be a little more complicated than they have been of late then. Indeed, in a somewhat counterintuitive move, the skippers will have to separate themselves from the route and the wind angle”, explains Tanguy Leglatin, coach to a number of the Mini skippers at the Lorient Grand Large training cluster. This should really reshuffle the cards for this second leg, verdict in the coming hours.

It is certainly surprising to see the top 2 production boats making headway just astern of the leader in the prototype category, but there’s another surprise in this story: Benjamin Ferré (902 – Imago Incubateur D’aventures), currently 2nd in the production boat fleet, who has been enjoying a fantastic 2nd leg since the start. “In every Mini-Transat, there are some surprises in store in the second leg, with certain sailors really excelling offshore and feeling more at ease than they thought they would”, explains the coach at Lorient Grand Large, whose been training Benjamin up.

“He’s really managing to put what he’s learnt in his preparation into practice in terms of the weather analysis, his performance and also looking after himself”. Though he’s sailing a boat which managed to cream along during the previous edition, this Breton primarily signed up for the adventure, an adventure that might well end on a much sweeter note than he’d imagined.

Though certain sailors are reaping the rewards of their options, others are champing at the bit, as is doubtless the case for Matthieu Vincent who’s been attempting a N’ly option. The sailor ranked third in the first leg in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and great things were expected of him in this second leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère.

Fortunately, Matthieu (947 – L’Occitane En Provence) and the chasing pack to the North are now done with being entangled in the treacly conditions caused by a zone of rain and storms looming over the great circle route. Though this group to the North has got some breeze back and with it some more suitable points of sail, it laments quite a deficit for now.

Cédric Ohanessian (901 – Entreprendre Pour La Planète) has made a dazzling comeback over recent days, moving up from 52nd to 19th place in the production fleet, all on a single 630-mile tack, Sébastien Liagre (589 – Walaby) hasn’t been dawdling either and today’s he’s lying in 18th place after a stellar S’ly option and just one gybe since the start aboard an old Pogo 2. Finally, Kévin Bloch (697 – Ensta Bretagne) is also sailing an excellent second leg in 17th place on the first of the older generation production Minis.

The support boat Yamanja had some news to report earlier about Frédéric Bach (533 – Kirikou): “Fred has lost his titanium spoon causing him major grief with regards eating! He’s had to come up with a replacement tool using a cut-off toothbrush handle and the lens from a spare pair of sunnies. He’s in the process of registering a patent so I’m not sure you’ll be allowed to publish this information!”

Yamanja also gives us the low-down on Jean-René Guilloux (915 – Crédit Agricole 35): “Jean-René has had a recurring problem since the start. He has to regularly tighten the screws on his rudder bearing. He’s already had to have another crack at it over the past 48 hours, but he’s envisaging another ‘return to the tunnel’ for another go. As such, we’ve launched onto a parallel course until he manages to successfully complete his repairs”.

Meantime, Gloanec has been in VHF contact with Adrien Bernard (896 – Mini Yak) who’s having a few technical issues: “All’s well aboard. He got into a pickle on the first night and has since had no navigation lights. The emergency lights are also out of action and his baby stay has broken.”

Finally, Aloha gives us a picture postcard of the sea state and the skies on zone: “We hit our first small squalls last night, nothing too nasty yet but the skies have clouded over. The sea is still a bit rough with a few white horses under the squalls. The average wind is between 15 and 19 knots.”

Ranking at 16:00 UTC

1- François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) 1,314.8 miles from the finish
2- Axel Tréhin (945 – Project Rescue Ocean) 95.6 miles behind the leader
3- Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Cerfrance) 154.3 miles behind the leader

1- Ambrogio Beccaria (943 – Geomag) 1,348.1 miles from the finish
2- Benjamin Ferré (902 – Imago Incubateur D’aventures 58.0 miles behind the leader
3- Nicolas D’Estais (905 – Cheminant – Ursuit) 83.1 miles behind the leader

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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.

Race Format:
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.

Source: Effetsmer

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