Mini Transat: Mere days from victory

Published on November 12th, 2019

(November 12, 2019; Leg 2; Day 11) – The Mini 6.50 soloists of the Mini Transat will soon be smelling land as prototype division leader François Jambou is less than 500 miles from the finish in Le Marin in Martinique, while a little over 100 miles astern, Ambrogio Beccaria is also very well placed to take the win in the production boat category and mirror his victory in the first leg.

For now though, the two leaders will have to focus on containing any attacks from their pursuers whilst preserving their gear. Such is the tough balance required in offshore racing.

The battle for the remaining podium places is still just as intense and further back the list of damage is mounting. Two competitors, Irina Gracheva and Julien Berthélémé, are sailing under jury rig after dismasting, whilst many others are having to try to make repairs at sea in order to hang on in there until they make it to the other side.

With a lead of nearly 100 miles over Axel Tréhin (945) with less than 500 miles to go, François Jambou (965) looks poised to secure outright victory. Indeed, it’s worth noting that the separation between the two men was just six minutes (in Axel’s favour) at the end of the first leg.

Erwan Le Méné (800) looks firmly settled into 3rd place, but the question is whether he will be able to make up the deficit he amassed in the first leg to move up onto the podium in the overall ranking. Erwan lamented a deficit of five hours in relation to Tanguy Bouroullec (969) on setting sail from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and this morning Tanguy has been relegated to over 50 miles astern of Erwan. The fleet of prototypes stretches nearly 800 miles between François Jambou and Marie Gendron (930), in 20th.

In the production boat fleet, three large groups have formed. The first comprises leader Ambrogio Beccaria (943) and his closest pursuers. Lined up behind the untouchable Italian, Benjamin Ferré (902) and Nicolas D’Estais (905) are virtually neck and neck, closely followed by Félix de Navacelle (916), positioned slightly to the North. Lauris Noslier (893) is also attacking hard to the South.

Given the easing weather conditions announced for the coming days and his slight deficit in relation to this group, Lauris certainly has nothing to lose by giving it a shot. Interestingly, Pierre Le Roy (925), a meteorologist in civilian life, is also hedging his bets on the South. We’ll have to wait and see how the S’ly option pays off.

The second group comprises those racers ranked from 7th (Guillaume Quilfen) to 15th place (Florian Quenot). Their podium hopes would seem compromised at this stage, but these nine sailors are embroiled in a fine race and are giving their all.

Indeed, it’s worth giving a special mention to Amélie Grassi (944) who’s continuing to pick off her fellow competitors and is lying in 14th place this morning. Just astern of this group, we find Kevin Bloch (697) and Violette Dorange (955) who are very much sailing their own races. Out of VHF range from their playmates, their transatlantic race will be a true rite-of-passage.

The third large group is more substantial, but also more spread out with a significant North/South separation. However, there is little between them in terms of distance to the goal. Indeed there is now just 110 miles between 18th placed Benoit Formet (887) and 40th placed Mathieu Gobet (455). Even in the soft belly of the ranking, the battle is intense between sailors with a whole variety of profiles, which is all part of the charm of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère.

Triage update:
Irina Gracheva and Julien Berthélémé whose boats dismasted yesterday have managed, without assistance, to set up jury rigs that should enable them to make Martinique without further incident, though they will have to be patient and sparing of their remaining food. This morning, Gracheva (579) and Berthélémé (742) are 1,100 miles from the finish (08:00 UTC position report).

Meantime, after breaking a spreader, Anne Beaugé (890) is planning to scale her mast to secure her rig once a support boat arrives alongside to ensure she can perform the operation in safety.

Ranking at 08:00 UTC:

1. François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) 481.2 miles from the finish
2. Axel Tréhin (945 – Project Rescue Ocean) 99.7 miles behind the leader
3. Erwan Le Méné (800 Rousseau Clôtures) 243.2 miles behind the leader

1. Ambrogio Beccaria (943 – Geomag) 598.6 miles from the finish
2. Benjamin Ferré (902 – Imago Incubateur D’aventures) 80.2 miles behind the leader
3. Nicolas D’Estais (905 – Cheminant-Ursuit) 85.5 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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