Severe weather warning for Mini Transat
Published on October 1st, 2021
(October 1, 2021; Day 5) – Though the top four boats in the Mini Transat EuroChef are lapping up perfect conditions to rack up the miles at high speed offshore of Portugal, the reverse is true in the Bay of Biscay and offshore of Cape Finisterre, where conditions today remain sluggish and shifty.
However, a drastic change of pace is announced from tomorrow, with the forecast turning especially violent from the night hours through into the following day due to a serious deterioration in the weather. In fact, Dantean conditions are expected in these zones, with gusts of 50 knots on difficult seas.
Race Management has transmitted a severe weather warning to all the competitors together with the advice to demonstrate good seamanship and consider seeking shelter. Since receiving the message, a large number of the competitors have seen reason and opted to put their race on hold to guarantee their safety and that of their boat.
This is evidenced by the numerous courses which are gradually converging towards land. The ports of Baiona, Camariña and La Coruña seem to be the destinations of choice for the sailors who are at risk of being the most exposed to these difficult conditions.
The skippers most impacted by the situation are likely to be the latecomers, but things look complicated across the board for all the Mini sailors who are still located to the north of the latitude of Porto by tomorrow evening.
Though escape is an option being taken by a great many skippers, fortunately it is not a necessity for the whole fleet. Indeed, the lead boats in the production boat category look set to escape the worst of the wind. For the time being, offshore of Cape Finisterre, they’ll gradually hook onto more consistent conditions, having spent 30 hours battling to make headway in light, erratic airs.
With regards the ranking, the past 24 hours have seen Gaël Ledoux sail an absolute blinder. The skipper of Haltoflame-Ilots.site, positioned in 13th place some 14.6 miles shy of the leader yesterday afternoon, took control of the fleet at midday thanks to a daring trajectory closer inshore. The sailor from Saint Malo is currently 3.6 miles ahead of Basile Bourgnon (975 – Edenred) and a small group of nine sailors led by Julie Simon (963 – Dynamips) around 5 miles back.
Among the prototypes, the small band of four mentioned above, comprising Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Tollec MP/Pogo), Fabio Muzzolini (945 – Tartine sans Beurre), Irina Gracheva (800 – Path) and, most notably, Pierre Le Roy (1019 – TeamWork) who is really flying and today boasts a lead of over 45 miles in front of his closest rival, has clearly got a taste for speed.
These escapees are continuing to lengthen their stride, propelled along by the Portuguese trade wind. This trade wind is not very strong and relatively fluky, but it’s been enabling them to make headway at an average speed of between 8 and 11 knots over the past 24 hours. As such, their arrival in Santa-Cruz de La Palma is still expected late on October 3 or in the early hours of the following day, which is at least two days ahead of their pursuers.
As for other news to note from today, the successful tow of Franck Lauvray’s boat has been completed by the trimaran belonging to Adrien Hardy, a sailor and rescuer of boats in distress. The prototype Alice, which suffered a dismasting on the night of September 28 into the next day, made the port of Lorient at around 01:00 hours local time last night, which means the skipper and boat have been made completely safe before the approaching storm hits.
Furthermore, Lilian Geolle (616 – Aora) has managed to repair her mast wand, but the situation is slightly more annoying for Camille Bertel (900 – Cap Ingelec). The skipper hasn’t managed to repair the on-board electronics and is continuing on her course without an autopilot. She’s sailing alongside Pierre Legendre (994 – AKKA), who is helping to keep her spirits up and provide a source of motivation.
Race details – Entry list – Tracker
After a one day postponement, the 23rd edition of the Mini Transat, reserved for the Mini 6.50, the smallest offshore racing class at 21-feet, got underway on September 27, 2021.
A notable proving ground for sailors with shorthanded aspirations, it is also test platform for new boat types, with 65 competitors entering in the production division for manufactured boats while the prototype division has 25 entrants with custom designs.
Held biennially, with limited participation for safety that includes strict qualification guidelines, the 4,050 nm course is divided in two parts: Les Sables d’Olonne (France) to Santa Cruz de La Palma in the Canaries (Spain), restarting on October 29 for the finish at Saint-François in Guadeloupe.
Source: Mini Transat