Tricky opening miles for Mini Transat

Published on October 30th, 2021

(October 30, 2021) – After setting sail mid-afternoon yesterday from Santa Cruz de La Palma bound for Saint-François, those competing in the 23rd Mini Transat EuroChef have had some tricky opening miles.

Indeed, each of them have had to deal as best they can with the wind shadows created by the Canary Islands, as well as numerous light patches. Obviously, some have faired better than others at this particular game.

This is evidenced by the fact that today, after just 24 hours of racing, the fleet is already sprawled across over 35 miles. The good news is that all the solo sailors have managed to extricate themselves from the Spanish archipelago and have hooked onto a NE’ly breeze of around fifteen knots. However, the bad news is two retirements came quickly.

Spanish sailor Pilar Pasanau (240 – Gemese – Peter Punk), competing in her fourth Transat but faced with autopilot issues as well as backache, decided to throw in the towel yesterday evening. Also, French soloist Tanguy Aulanier (896 – La Chaîne de l’Espoir) collided with Camille Bertel’s boat (900 – Cap Ingelec) during yesterday’s start, damaging his bow beyond repair.

Among the prototypes, Fabio Muzzolini (945 – Tartine sans Beurre) has had a particularly favorable passage by sailing a blinder thanks to a slightly more offshore route around El Hierro than his direct rivals. Today, he boasts a lead of 0.6 miles over Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Tollec MP/Pogo), the current leader in the overall ranking, and over 2 miles ahead of the triplet formed by Irina Gracheva (800 – Path) – Sébastien Pebelier (787 – Decosail) – François Champion (950 – Porsche Taycan).

Among the production boats, Léo Debiesse, always very at ease in the light airs and transition phases, is living up to his reputation. This afternoon, the skipper of Les Alphas is powering along out front with a lead of 2.8 miles over Julie Simon (963 – Dynamips), 3.5 miles ahead of Chloé Le Bars (1007 – Association MJ pour l’Enfance) and 5 miles in front of the chasing pack.

With the chasing pack stretched across more than 35 miles in length and the same laterally, with certain competitors like Valentin Foucher (990 – Mini Chorus – CARE BTP) or Spaniard Miguel Rondon (1006 – Kristina II) opting for a different route to the East in a bid to try to make up the ground they lost under the influence of more wind shadows than their rivals last night. A fruitful option? Nothing could be less certain.

The reason for this is that salvation seems to be located on the other side as the wind is curving round in that area. In fact, plunging southwards certainly seems to be a guarantee of finding more pressure, but the act of repositioning yourself to the west will guarantee a shorter route. As such, in the coming hours (from this evening onwards if all goes to plan), the Mini sailors will begin to link together a series of gybes so they can zigzag their way down the Atlantic.

Appearing to be fairly simple on paper, out on the water, the sailors will have to be able to exploit the numerous variations in the wind as best they can by finding the right compromise between making fast headway and not extending the distance to travel too much.

Race detailsEntry listTracker

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

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