Final stage starts for 23rd Mini Transat
Published on October 29th, 2021
(October 29, 2021) – Not surprisingly, it is in all light winds (between 4 and 5 knots winds northeast) for the start of the second stage of the 23th edition of the Mini Transat Eurochef today off Santa Cruz de La Palma of the Canary Islands. Right from the start, the tone was set for solo sailors who will have to show patience and opportunism over the next 24-36 hours to get out of the region.
In the absence of the typical trade winds for the 2700 nm leg from Santa Cruz de La Palma (Canary Islands) to Saint-François (Guadeloupe), the 12 to 13 days needed to complete the course in 2019 is expected this time to be between 14 and 16 days to complete the distance.
The initial challenge will be to outsmart the winds of the islands, and in particular that of Tenerife, the highest point of which is 3,715 meters above sea level.
“The effects of Teide are felt over 60 miles away. The Minists will have to try to find the best passage between La Gomera and El Hierro which they have the obligation to leave to starboard. It will not be so easy, especially since they will also have to deal with many areas of soft and poorly established trade winds,” explains Christian Dumard, weather consultant for the race.
In this somewhat delicate context, some surprises are obviously to be expected, as well as the first significant deviations.
“We’ll have to be good on it. Next night is likely to be very important,” assured Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Tollec MP / Pogo), current leader in the Proto standings with less than 1h10 ahead of Fabio Muzzolini (945 – Tartine sans Beurre) and Pierre Le Roy (1019 – TeamWork), but also less than 10 hours of bonus on Irina Gracheva (800 – Path), the Russian sailor who could well perform remarkably well on the first miles of the route.
“The conditions are perfect for me and above all perfect for my boat,” shared Gracheva. “I know I have a card to play in the light airs, although I keep in mind that when it’s very weak and very unstable, everyone is susceptible to getting tricked or doing some big mistake. It is, in any case, very challenging for me,” explained the skipper who has already, and on numerous occasions, shown that she is absolutely formidable in light airs.
“From the outset, the game promises to be quite open. It will be necessary to be lively and opportunistic because an error will quickly be able to be paid quite dearly, in the same way that a good option will quickly be able to save a lot,” confirmed for his part Léo Debiesse (966 – Les Alphas), particularly at ease, too, in the calm.
“It will inevitably be a plus to get out of the archipelago in the leading group, but the race will be very long afterwards. Even if someone does stand out in the coming hours, that is not going to finish the race. I think it’s going to play out a lot in my head. We will have to be solid until the end.”
Same story or almost on the side of his competitor Anne-Claire Le Berre (1005 – Rendez-Vous Equilibre), author of the best start this afternoon. “It is certain that at first, the exit of the Canary Islands may be a little complicated but beyond that, and whatever happens next night, the game will be very open behind.
“In my opinion, the key point will be in five or six days when we will have more visibility on the second part of the race. Today, it is quite uncertain given that the trade winds are not quite established, but there will be, at some point, a choice to be made on the route to take.”
In fact, within a few days, after having initially continued their descent towards the south, the Minists will have no other choice but to turn off their trajectories to the right to reach the Antillean arc. Both fleets will then have to find the best compromise between going fast and traveling as little as possible.
“We will have to compose according to the weather forecast that we will receive every day via the BLU. One thing is certain: there are going to be different options. The goal of the game will not only be to make the right strategic choices but also to succeed in going fast for a long time,” added Tanguy Bouroullec.
While he will be able to draw on the experience of his first two participation in the race, this will not be the case for the vast majority of the fleet, which is preparing to cross the Atlantic for the very first time, not without some apprehension.
“Like many, I don’t know what to expect because I don’t know where I’m going,” admitted Le Berre. “The unknown is, moreover, precisely what we all come looking for. It is a challenge with oneself. To come to the other side and have it done, that will be a beautiful thing. Today it is a stronger feeling than the athlete. It’s a year and a half of a project that can be summed up or at least taking shape.”
After a one day postponement due to storms, the 23rd edition of the Mini Transat, reserved for the Mini 6.50, the smallest offshore racing class at 21-feet, saw the first stage get 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