Tide turning in Mini Transat
Published on November 4th, 2021
(November 4, 2021; Day 7) – The competitors further south today in the 23rd Mini Transat EuroChef fleet have evidently hung a right, deciding it was the time to cash in on their investment and take the direct route towards the West Indies, propelled along by a NE’ly trade wind with better speeds than their northerly counterparts.
Though the trades are slightly lacklustre, their average speed of between 8.5 and 10.5 knots are better than their adversaries further north who are having to pick their way along through patchy breeze and are readying themselves for a few tricky hours, especially so over the course of tomorrow.
The reason for the fickle forecast is a large area of very light winds sprawled right in front of them that could well wreak havoc on the leader board.
The southern group, which is now making headway at roughly the latitude of Cape Verde, are powering along on a direct route towards Guadeloupe, which is still some 1,700 miles ahead of their bows. Riding the NE’ly trade wind between 13 and 17 knots, the sailors are managing to reduce their leader board deficits in relation to those sailors in the north.
This is evidenced in the prototype fleet, where Arno Biston (551 – Bahia Express), who was lying in 12th position yesterday at 12:00 UTC with a 126-mile deficit in relation to the first boat, is riding high in 3rd place today, at the same time, around fifty miles or so astern of the leader, François Champion (945 – Porsche Taycan.
The same is true, albeit to a lesser extent, in the production boat category, where the group headed by Jean Cruse (910 – Ini Mini Myni Mo), Quentin Riché (947 – Race for Pure Ocean), and Marine Legendre (902 – EY – Pile Poil) is slowly but surely clawing back miles in relation to its rivals making headway at the opposite end of the race zone.
These rivals include Melwin Fink (920 – SignForCom), who is currently lying in first place, banging the point home that he’s more than capable of maintaining high speeds, along with all the sailors presently in the Top 10 in the provisional overall ranking drawn up after the first leg, with the exception of Anne-Claire Le Berre (1005 – Rendez-Vous Equilibre).
This trend is set to become even more exaggerated in the coming hours, especially so over the course of tomorrow, because from 33° or 34° West, those favoring the most direct route will stumble up against a light patch, which is sprawled out smack bang in the middle of the Atlantic.
“The further north the competitors are, the more they will be impacted,” explains Christian Dumard, the race’s weather consultant, whose grib files provide a rather gloomy insight into the 18 to 36 tricky hours the latter group of sailors are due to face. Put plainly, it is expected that the current hierarchy will be turned on its head because, as part of the fleet struggles to make headway, the other will continue to lengthen their stride.
So what of those who are positioned between the two groups? It’s hard to say. Some are trying to slink southwards at the moment to avoid stalling, but their angle of descent is not ideal. For others, like François Champion, there may still be a slender chance that they won’t get trapped, but it’s going to be touch and go.
By tomorrow, things may look vastly different on the leader board and, at this stage of the game, certain skippers may well lose a few tail feathers on the Atlantic playing field, even though it promises to be a long old ride to Saint François.
Indeed, since the leg two start on October 29, the latest routing suggests that the first prototypes aren’t likely to make landfall before the morning of November 13, while the first production boats aren’t due in before the evening a day later.
In other news from the racecourse today, it’s important to highlight the autopilot issues lamented by Lucas Valenza-Troubat (606 – Six Saucisses) and Felip Moll Marques (588 – Alleva). Otherwise, each of them is doing just fine.
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