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Thread: 2017 Mini Transat

  1. #1
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    2017 Mini Transat

    Having started on on October 1st, the 81 single handed sailors competing in the 2017 Mini Transat are still worKing their way out of the Bay of Biscay





    The wind is gradually veering round to the north, but it’s still struggling to establish itself. In the light airs, some sailors are trying to hoist spinnakers, or even the code 5, which is flatter and easier to set. Failing the wind on the stern, the Mini skippers are going to have to zigzag their way along in a quartering wind to make the north-west tip of Galicia.








    After two days of racing, the solo sailors in the Mini-Transat la Boulangère are still dawdling across the Bay of Biscay. The fleet is currently at the longitude of Gijón. The wet, westerly breezes of the initial hours of racing have now given way to blue skies, leaving the sailors only an asthmatic northerly wind to play with. No long-term strategy is possible in these conditions so the focus must be on trying to keep up a bit of speed and to continue making headway. In such an atmosphere, the latest generation boats are struggling to make a difference. Though Ian Lipinski (Griffon.fr) and Jörg Riechers (Lilienthal) are managing to contain the attacks from the most versatile boats, like that of Erwan Le Mené (Rousseau Clôtures) or Aurélien Poisson (TeamWork), others are really under pressure, like Simon Koster (Eight Cube Sersa) and Quentin Vlamynck (Arkema 3). Simon has decided to bend his course southwards, the weather forecasts indicating a slight increase in the wind along the coast. Keni Piperol (Région Guadeloupe) and Antoine Cornic (Destination Île de Ré) are following suit.












    Production boats: the favourites set the pace

    In the production boat category, the favourites remain at the front of the pack. Rémi Aubrun (Alternative Sailing – Constructions du Belon) has got the better of Erwan le Draoulec (Emile Henry). Hot on their heels are Clarisse Crémer (TBS), Valentin Gauthier (Shaman – Banque du Léman) and Ambrogio Beccaria (Alla Grande Ambecco), in the vanguard of the ‘scow bows’. To understand the pace being set by the leaders, just take a look at those bringing up the rear of the fleet. Indeed, Luca Sabiu (Vivere la Vela), victim of autopilot issues, and Marc Miro Rubio at the helm of his Pogo 1 Alfin are already over 45 miles astern. Right at the back, after having to return to La Rochelle after the start, Gwendal Pibot (Rossinante) could well have some company again in a few days’ time.

    There are no major issues to report among the fleet in these mild conditions. Camille Taque (Foxsea Lady) has resolved her rig problems and managed to fix her keel, which had some play in it. Quentin Vlamynck has reported the failure of his masthead lights… With the exception of Matteo Rusticali, dockside in Royan after finally being towed by a trawler and then the lifeboat, everyone is still racing.









    Cape Finisterre from tomorrow

    The head of the fleet is set to make the tip of Galicia in the early hours of Wednesday. From there, the skippers will have to make headway along the Costa da Morte, from the Sisargas Islands to Cape Finisterre. On the programme for the solo sailors, a sharp acceleration in the breeze from the north-east, which should propel the Minis southwards at high speed. It will also be decision time, with the skippers having to choose between taking the inside track at the TSS of Cape Finisterre at the risk of suffering the effects of the wind shadow from the coast, or making westing and benefiting from a steadier, albeit meatier breeze. The Mini sailors have 24 hours to make their choices.






    Proto Chart




    Series Chart

    http://minitransat.geovoile.com/2017/tracker/


    Ranking at 15:00 UTC

    Production boats

    1 Rémi Aubrun – Alternative Sailing – Constructions du Belon - 1,106 miles from the finish
    2 Erwan Le Draoulec – Emile Henry – 0.9 miles behind the leader
    3 Clarisse Crémer – TBS – 2.7 miles behind the leader
    4 Valentin Gauthier – Shaman – Banque du Léman – 4.1 miles behind the leader
    5 Ambrogio Beccaria – Alla Grande Ambecco – 4.5 miles behind the leader


    Prototypes

    1 Erwan le Mené – Rousseau Clôtures – 1,091.4 from the finish
    2 Ian Lipinski – Griffon.fr – 0.6 miles behind the leader
    3 Jörg Riechers – Lilienthal – 5.1 miles behind the leader
    4 Aurélien Poisson – TeamWork – 7.4 miles behind the leader
    5 Charlotte Méry – Optigestion – Femmes de Bretagne – 8.5 miles behind the leader

    http://www.minitransat.fr/en/news/more-haste-less-speed
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  2. #2
    Go the French guys!

    (hedging my bets)

  3. #3
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    Learning The Limits




    The expected north-easterly wind is now packing a punch. As a result, the Minis are once again making speeds that are more in line with their true potential as they plunge southwards. Though the majority of the fleet has opted to pass between the TSS of Cape Finisterre and the Spanish coast, a few of the skippers have chosen to take the long route, making westing as a possible investment for the future perhaps…

    In offshore racing, there are times when you have to bite the bullet and suffer some losses in order to come back stronger and potentially take the win. This is clearly the objective of those sailors who have opted to make headway to the west around the top of the TSS of Cape Finisterre. Andrea Fornaro (Sideral) and doubtless Nolwen Cazé (Fée Rêvée) too, are likely to tumble down the rankings the further they distance themselves from the direct route. However, in doing so, they’re almost certain to benefit from strong downwind conditions for two days.



    The NE’ly breeze currently dictating play is fuelled by a relatively small low located to the SE of Porto. With the wind rotating anticlockwise around the centre of the low pressure system, the solo sailors will have this to contend with whilst they remain to the NW of the low. However, the system is supposed to gradually move offshore. As such, the further out to sea it gets, any boats in the vicinity will logically see the winds progressively shift round to the SE or even due south. By gaining headway to the west, this fate is delayed somewhat. However, will the long detour chosen by Andrea and some of the others be rewarded by much greater speeds and if so, will it ultimately be enough to steal a march on those taking the inside track, who will inevitably be seeking to gain ground to the west themselves the moment they get clear of the TSS… ?


    Frédéric Guérin, is going to La Corogne. He doesn't want any help, he will do everything to go back into the race !


    Back to current affairs

    The return of the breeze has enabled some of sailors to get back on track. In the prototype category, Ian Lipinski (Griffon.fr) is continuing to open up his lead, his pursuers resigning themselves to following in his wake for now. Some have benefited from more boisterous conditions to up their game, including Simon Koster (Eight Cube Sersa), who has managed to punch through the leading pack to make his way right up to the front again. In the production boat category, Rémi Aubrun (Alternative Sailing – Constructions du Belon) is driving the point home, Yannick Le Clech (Dragobert) and Erwan Le Draoulec (Emile Henry) now relegated to nearly five miles off the pace of the leader. Some of the heavyweights are making the most of these conditions to make up for a rather lacklustre start, as is the case for Tanguy Bouroullec (CERFRANCE – Kerhis) and the Irish skipper Thomas Dolan (Offshoresailing.fr) who has come from the very rear of the fleet and is now right back in contention again in 14th place.

    Minor grievances and great joy

    The return of the breeze from the north-east has swept away the last of the clouds from above the fleet and the Minis are now belting along under blue skies along the coast of Galicia, with the Galician mountains and its forests of eucalyptus forming a wonderful backdrop, complemented by the rise in temperature. It doesn’t take much more to inspire solo sailors, who will doubtless be delighted to escape the rather moist conditions of the first two days. The only real difficulty is deciding which sail configuration to carry. Most frequently it’s a reefed main, whilst the more daring are still under spinnaker and some are opting instead for the more manageable code 5, which may well be the perfect sail when you want to make headway under autopilot and use the time to sleep and eat and recover your strength. However, in 20-25 knots of breeze, the slightest error can prove very costly. In addition to the two dismastings, several competitors admitted to a few issues. Antoine Cornic (Destination Île de Ré) has eased off the pace after broaching under spinnaker. Suffering from autopilot worries, he’s opted to calm things down and get some restorative sleep. Meantime, Andrea Pendibene (Pegaso Marine Militare) has snapped his masthead halyard, but has already found an alternative solution. Cédric Faron (Marine Nationale) has lost one of his solar panels and will have to be careful not to waste any energy. Sailing close to the coast also comes with some risk. Germain Kerlévéo (Astrolabe Expéditions- Ideesgestion.com) got his keel hooked around a poorly marked fishing pot and spent some considerable time in reverse to get free of it.



    Happy people don’t fuss

    Of the 81 candidates who set sail on this adventure, these minor incidents are but the froth of all the emotions; the pleasure of finally being at sea, alone, up against no-one but yourself. Added to that, this first leg is the introduction to the main event: the Atlantic crossing. What the racers don’t tell us about are the VHF conversations from boat to boat, where they encourage each other, tease one another sometimes and chat about minor things like the contents of lunch, or how full-on a particular manœuvre was. They’re not necessarily battling to be top of the class, but they are equally indispensable in the story that is the Mini-Transat La Boulangère. That’s why they all want to get as far as they can go on this adventure. Frédéric Guérin (les-amis.fun) and Julien Mizrachi (UNAPEI) still have the right to dream, despite suffering a dismasting. Making landfall in La Coruña, they’ll have 72 hours to effect repairs and head back out to sea according to the rules. It would come as no surprise if the informal community of past Mini sailors has already found some worthy representatives to give them a helping hand. It’ll be a different kind of race from that point, but one that deserves just as much respect.


    http://www.minitransat.fr/en/follow-race/cartography

    Ranking at 15:00 UTC

    Prototypes

    1 Ian Lipinski – Griffon.fr – 895.9 miles from the finish
    2 Erwan le Mené – Rousseau Clôtures – 10.4 miles behind the leader
    3 Aurélien Poisson – TeamWork – 21.7 miles behind the leader
    4 Simon Koster –Eight Cube Sersa – 24.3 miles behind the leader
    5 Arthur Léopold-Léger – Antal XPO – 25.4 miles behind the leader
    Production boats

    1 Rémi Aubrun – Alternative Sailing – Constructions du Belon - 920 miles from the finish
    2 Yannick Le Clech – Dragobert – 3.7 miles behind the leader
    3 Erwan Le Draoulec – Emile Henry – 4.8 miles behind the leader
    4 Clarisse Crémer – TBS – 10.7 miles behind the leader
    5 Ambrogio Beccaria – Alla Grande Ambecco – 17.1 miles behind the leader
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    KNIT ONE, PURL ONE



    Whilst making the most of the last puffs of downwind breeze and continuing to make headway towards the goal without losing sight of the potential options to come, the solo sailors will now have to switch from intuitive to cerebral mode, from a philosophy of “I am not afraid” to “which way is out…?” Indeed, singlehanded racing is all about being an all-rounder.

    To stand a chance of winning an offshore race you need: a good boat, inevitably; hours spent on the water practising, talent and a sound work ethic, a touch of rashness and a big chunk of time to take stock… Finally, you also need a bit of luck on your side, which is something that some sailors have been lacking, like Antoine Cornic (Destination Île de Ré), deprived of his autopilot and forced to dump his sails for a few hours each day so he can get some rest, or Pierre Chedeville (Blue Orange Games – Fair Ritail) once again. They are not alone in lamenting their share of technical glitches: Cédric Faron (Marine Nationale) and Camille Taque (Foxsea Lady) have big energy problems. Moreover, Camille has indicated to one of the support boats that she’ll regularly have to go hove to in order to get some rest. Finally, Lina Rixgens (Mini Doc) has broken the connecting rod between her two rudders. Meanwhile, Slobodan Velikic (Sisa 2) is clearly making towards land. Race Management has diverted a support boat to identify the problem, however the Croatian sailor has not requested assistance. However, it is all over for Luca Sabiu (Vivere la Vela). Beset by recurring technical issues since the start, the Italian sailor set off his distress beacon last night and has been airlifted by helicopter to La Coruña by the Spanish Navy.

    Meantime, also in La Coruña, the two skippers with damaged masts are busying themselves with effecting repairs and hope to head back out onto the racetrack as quickly as possible. From tomorrow morning, they’re likely to get a visit from a unit of ‘commandos’ made up of former racers and friends, with gifts ranging from lamination specialisms, to new shrouds, to multiple talents and plenty of goodwill… Certain pontoons in the port of La Coruña are clearly going to be a hive of activity.




    RACE VIEWER


    A parting of ways?

    Offshore of Lisbon, the fleet is beginning to re-centre itself after putting in a massive leg towards the south-west. The speeds are slowly decreasing, but progress remains perfectly respectable. Meantime, Erwan le Mené (Rousseau Clôtures) is heading back offshore again after a change of course earlier in the day. Most likely, the sailor from the Breton sailing hub of the Morbihan, suffered damage such as a broken spinnaker pole and was forced to head towards calmer waters temporarily. His outlay has ultimately cost him 40 miles in relation to the head of the fleet.

    Among those competing in the production boat category, Rémi Aubrun (Alternative Sailing – Constructions du Belon) has opted to go it alone. Indeed, whilst all his pursuers are continuing to set a course for the south-west, he has opted to be the first to re-centre himself. This evening, the lateral separation between him and Erwan Le Draoulec (Emile Henry) is over 50 miles so it’s very much game on, particularly in light of the uncertainty clouding the coming hours.



    Happy Birthday

    For those back on dry land, the Mini-Transat La Boulangère is certainly no picnic. Parents, loved ones and partners find themselves frenetically checking the cartography, seeking out every bit of information that might be an indicator of a hazardous trajectory. You sleep with your phone to hand, just in case there is the dreaded call from Race Management signalling a problem on a boat. Tom Dolan’s partner must have had her heart in her mouth when the dreaded number appeared on her mobile. False alert: on the contrary it was to pass on a message, via a support boat contacted by Tom over VHF, wishing her a happy birthday. Now that’s what you call class!

    Ranking at 15:00 UTC

    Prototypes

    1 Ian Lipinski – Griffon.fr – 677.6 miles from the finish
    2 Arthur Léopold-Léger – Antal XPO – 20.6 miles behind the leader
    3 Simon Koster –Eight Cube Sersa – 25.1 miles behind the leader
    4 Romain Bolzinger – Spicee.com – 36.4 miles behind the leader
    5 Aurélien Poisson – TeamWork – 41.6 miles behind the leader
    Production boats

    1 Rémi Aubrun – Alternative Sailing – Constructions du Belon - 723.4 miles from the finish
    2 Erwan Le Draoulec – Emile Henry – 2.4 miles behind the leader
    3 Clarisse Crémer – TBS 9.9 miles behind the leader
    4 Yannick Le Clech – Dragobert – 9.9 miles behind the leader
    5 Tanguy Bouroullec – CERFRANCE - Kerhis – 14.7 miles behind the leader



    THE MINI-TRANSAT LA BOULANGERE IN FIGURES:


    · Sunday 1 October: Start of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère in La Rochelle, France

    · 21st edition

    · 4,050 miles to cover between La Rochelle – Las Palmas in Gran Canaria and Le Marin (Martinique)

    · 81 skippers at the start

    · 10 women

    · 11 nationalities

    · 20 years: age of the youngest skipper in the race: Erwan Le Draoulec

    · 62 years: age of the oldest skipper in the race: Fred Guérin

    · 25 prototypes

    · 56 production boats

    · 66 rookies

    · 15 'repeat offenders'
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    Navigating The Portuguese Hole

    The wind is continuing to ease across the race zone

    - Commando operation in La Coruña

    - The west of the race zone pays dividends



    Proto Chart


    Series Chart


    TRACKER



    In cruising terms, conditions could best be described as relaxing : sunny climes, seas becoming increasingly calm, light to moderate breeze, perfect conditions for idling about. However, the distinctive feature of offshore racers is that they always want to go faster... at the risk of sacrificing some of the fun element.

    Out on the water, Ian Lipinski (Griffon.fr) is continuing to resist the attacks from those in hot pursuit. Indeed, despite conditions which don't really favour his type of hull, he's managing to hold onto the advantage he has so masterfully racked up over his direct rivals in what is a true sign of the strength of this firm favourite in this 2017 edition. In the space of two years, Ian has learnt to be completely at one with his machine, erasing any weaknesses along the way. All that's left are assets, which he knows just how to make the most of the moment conditions allow. It is no insult to Jörg Riechers (Lilienthal) to make the observation that his prototype still has some room for improvement, after all it is just three months since she was launched. However, we can certainly count on the German sailor to progress in leaps and bounds.

    Winning west
    In the production boat category, Clarisse Crémer (TBS) is reminding one and all that she is a force to be reckoned with and like Tanguy Bouroullec (Kerhis Cerfrance) she is right on the pace of the race. The option to the west has paid off and now it will be important to contain the horde of pursuers. From Erwan Le Draoulec (Emile Henry) to the Swiss sailor Valentin Gauthier (Shaman- Banque du Léman) and to Rémi Aubrun (Alternative Sailing – Constructions du Belon), everyone is very much in contention for victory. In these light airs, we'll also have to reckon on a possible comeback by the Pogo 2s. One thing for sure: they'll have to be patient, not let down their guard, constantly monitor the trim and be able to take the helm whenever the autopilot isn't performing on point... The light airs can become exhausting at times.

    La Coruña, autumn refit
    A whole team has landed on the pontoons in La Coruña to come and assist Julien Mizrachi (UNAPEI) and Fred Guérin (Les-amis.fun). A fully equipped mast is on the menu for the former, transported via a trailer on the back of a lorry, along with lamination material and a few seasoned specialists. Yes indeed, the Mini solidarity has pulled it out of the bag once again. Meantime Fred Guérin knows that he'll be outside the time limit to officially head back onto the racetrack, but his holy grail lies elsewhere. At 62 years of age, he has a fourth Mini-Transat to complete and it's out of the question not to get back out there. He may not be able to be ranked, but we can bet that his arrival will be celebrated just as warmly as all the others, if not better. The Mini-Transat relishes a great story...

    Ranking at 15:00 UTC

    Prototypes
    - 1 Ian Lipinski – Griffon.fr – 51.2 miles to the finish

    - 2 Arthur Léopold-Léger – Antal XPO – 12.8 miles behind the leader

    - 3 Romain Bolzinger – Spicee.com sa – 42.8 miles behind the leader

    - 4 Simon Koster –Eight Cube Ser- 56.6 miles behind the leader

    - 5 Aurélien Poisson – TeamWork – 69.4 miles behind the leader

    Production boats
    - 1 Clarisse Crémer – TBS 589.8 miles to the finish

    - 2 Tanguy Bouroullec – CERFRANCE - Kerhis – 1.8 miles behind the leader

    - 3 Erwan Le Draoulec – Emile Henry – 3.9 miles behind the leader

    - 4 Valentin Gautier – Shaman – Banque du Léman – 12.7 miles behind the leader

    - 5 Rémi Aubrun – Alternative Sailing – Constructions du Belon - 13.8 miles behind the leader
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    Slow Progress In Mini Transat


    Proto Chart Monday AM

    Tracker

    Some 200 miles from the finish, the calms are all-encompassing

    - The first sailors are expected to finish on Tuesday

    - Conditions set the tone in the rankings



    The light airs are making the sailors' nerves jangle. They're all very much aware that it's not far to the Canaries now and that today's lucrative placement on the Atlantic roulette wheel may well set them up for big losses tomorrow. In the zones of calm littering the course this evening, the solo sailors are armed with only their patience and their vigilance in a bid to limit any damage and make the best of any gains where they have the means at their disposal.

    These last few miles are going to be long! After a week of racing, the Mini-Transat La Boulangère fleet, which is 200 miles from the finish at best, will have to demonstrate real grit and patience to make landfall in Gran Canaria. On the menu for these last few days are erratic winds and blazing sunshine, which will be hard to stomach. Now is also the time when each of the skippers is beginning to draw up an inventory of their remaining provisions and wonder at the benefits of rationing out snacks and drinking water. The latter is the crucial element of course as it is reckoned that an offshore racer must drink three litres of water a day, more when the temperature rises. Not being sufficiently hydrated equates to a dip in vigilance of up to 20%, impaired judgement and an inability to get restorative sleep. Suffice to say that in the coming hours, the first leg of the Mini-Transat la Boulangère may all come down to the detail.



    Series Chart Monday AM


    The sleep of the just
    There are clearly certain skippers within the Mini fleet who have no problem dropping off to sleep, even though they do have to watch that they aren't out for the count for too long. According to a survey carried out by Ocean Dentiste, one of the support boats, the prize for best sleeper would go to Mathieu Lambert (Presta Services Bat) with eight hours in a row, just ahead of Germain Kerlévéo (Astrolabe Expéditions – idéesgestion.com) and Thibault Michelin (Eva Luna). Perhaps it's important to differentiate here between the peaceful sleeper and the skipper that has overcooked things and gone into the red. During this time, other skippers are keeping watch, like Julien Bozzolo (Mariolle.fr), who's making the most of having a particularly high-performance VHF to relay his playmates' messages to the support boats. Indeed, it's thanks to him that Emanuele Grassi (Penelope) was able to quickly get in contact with Blanche Hermine to alert them to his technical woes: a rudder gudgeon has pulled out with some delamination on the transom and few tools to effect repairs. It is also the role of the support boats to boost the frayed morale of the troops by their presence. Others will have to simply get on with it themselves at the tail end of the fleet as their deficit is too great now. This is the case for Slobodan Velikic (Sisa 2), who's set sail again from Leixoes, Porto's commercial port, and Julien Mizrachi (UNAPEI) who's left La Coruna with a new mast. Back out on the racetrack, there's still time for them to play catch-up of course.


    African roulette
    Far from such considerations, at the head of the race the battle merrily continues. Arthur Léopold-Léger (Antal XPO) has now opened up a very slight lead over Ian Lipinski (Griffon.fr), though this may not prove significant given how random the conditions are. Within the group of favourites, Erwan Le Mené (Rousseau Clôtures), now back in podium position, has gained over 40 miles in relation to the head of the fleet in 24 hours, whilst Simon Koster (Eight Cube Sersa) has lost 20 over a similar period. As the leaders stumble in the calms, there may well be a bunching up of the fleet with more upsets in the ranking.

    In the production boat category, Erwan Le Draoulec (Emile Henry) has snatched back the lead by clawing back 25 miles in 24 hours from Clarisse Crémer (TBS). Tanguy Bouroullec (Kerhis-Cerfrance) is back on the podium in third place after sailing a blinder that has won him 50 miles over the same period. As such, clearly no-one is protected from a nasty surprise. Behind the big names, there is room to dream...

    Ranking at 15:00 UTC

    Prototypes
    1- Arthur Léopold-Léger - Antal XPO - à 193,8 miles from the finish

    2- Ian Lipinski - Griffon.fr - à 12,4 miles behind the leader

    3- Erwan Le Mené - Rousseau Clôtures - à 56,6 miles behind the leader

    4- Romain Bolzinger - Spicee.com - à 62,5 miles behind the leader

    5- Simon Koster -Eight Cube Sersa- à 77,1 milles behind the leader


    Production boats
    1- Erwan Le Draoulec - Emile Henry à 281,5 miles from the finish

    2- Clarisse Crémer - TBS - à 7,7 miles behind the leader

    3- Rémi Aubrun - Alternative Sailing - Constructions du Belon - à 16,5 miles behind the leader

    4- Tanguy Bouroullec - Kerhis Cerfrance - à 17,4 miles behind the leader

    5- Ambrogio Beccaria - Alla Grande Ambeco- à 33,6 miles behind the leader
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    Still precious little breeze on the race zone

    - Rankings fluctuating with the position reports

    - First ETAs now on Tuesday night through into Wednesday



    As the sea takes on the look of a millpond, the skippers competing in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère are getting increasingly worried. Between the latitude of Madeira and that of the Canaries, the wind is dying and the average speeds make for depressing reading. At this pace, there is no real prospect of a solid ETA. Both at sea and on shore, everyone will just have to grin and bear it for now.

    This first leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère may go down in the race's history books as one of the longest of the modern era, when the competitive prototypes and production boats took over from the Muscadets and Serpentaires of the early days. In this windless stagnation, everyone is trying to find a saviour in options that are increasingly uncertain. Indeed, the only certainty is that the situation is benefiting those towards the back of the fleet due to misfortune or dawdling. La Fontaine may not have envisaged the flip side of the tale of the tortoise and the hare, whereas Jérôme Lhermitte (Noveum), Guillermo Canardo (Open Arms) and Thomas Béchaux (Poralu Marine) are embracing it with open arms. Indeed, they've been able to continue making steady progress, whilst also closing on the leaders slightly. Other have not been so lucky alas. Indeed, between the tail of the fleet and a little group just to the north of the latitude of Madeira, the wind has faded away to the great displeasure of Vianney Desvignes (Effydin – Stade Français), François Denis (Soboat.com) and Boris Pelsy (Novintiss). We can but imagine the fruity conversations over VHF...

    A game of chance on the open ocean

    Within this context, some skippers have opted to leave things to fate, entrusting the wind gods with the keys to the boat should they dare to put in an appearance. Between Irish sailor Thomas Dolan (Offshoresailing.com), Pierre Chedeville (Blue Orange Games – Fair Retail) and Yann Burkhalter (Kalaona) sleep is a hot topic of conversation. To hear them it sounds like a pyjama party is in store this evening, with a deep sleep under the quilt before breakfast on the terrace at sunrise. Essentially, nobody really knows which way to turn given how stretched the isobars have become and how scrawny the pressure gradient is.
    At the mercy of each new position report, those favouring one option take precedence over others and vice versa. Yannick Le Clech (Dragobert), one of the skippers furthest over to the west, had gained the upper hand in the 15:00 UTC ranking, whilst Clarisse Crémer (TBS), one of the skippers further to the east appeared to be leading the race at the previous position report. It must be tempting to offer Neptune some sacrifices, though this may not be wise given that there's not much left to eat aboard...
    In the prototype category, Arthur Léopold-Léger (Antal-XPO) has clearly decided not to give an inch. Despite the fact that the two leaders have covered just 50 miles in the past 24 hours, he'll be keen to instil some doubt in the direction of Ian Lipinski (Griffon.fr), for whom this would be his first defeat in two years of racing. However things pan out, there is an Atlantic left to traverse of course.

    One imperative, to drink

    This is the key to lucid sailing. As such, the rule for the Mini-Transat La Boulangère dictates that a minimum of 40 litres of water is aboard. This is easily the equivalent of 10 to 12 days of racing. However, we are well aware of the sins of offshore racers. Indeed, it's highly likely that a few of the hotheads emptied a few bottles of water into the sea the minute La Rochelle's towers had disappeared over the horizon in a bid to make the boat lighter. For those who do end up short of water, a nine-litre jerrican of water must make up some of the contents of the grab bag, whose seal will have to be broken if used and the verdict will automatically go before the jury. As such, between losing a few hours from their final race time or putting their health at risk, the skippers will have to quickly make their choices.
    Ranking at 15:00 UTC

    Prototypes

    1- Arthur Léopold-Léger - Antal XPO – 145.2 miles from the finish

    2- Ian Lipinski - Griffon.fr - 14.3 miles behind the leader

    3- Romain Bolzinger - Spicee.com - 44.5 miles behind the leader

    4- Erwan Le Mené - Rousseau Clôtures – 62.1 miles behind the leader

    5- Simon Koster -Eight Cube Sersa- 68.2 miles behind the leader

    Production boats

    1- Yannick Le Clech - Dragobert 203.7 miles from the finish

    2- Tanguy Bouroullec - Kerhis Cerfrance – 3.2 miles behind the leader

    3- Clarisse Crémer - TBS – 3.7 miles behind the leader

    4- Benoit Sineau - Cachaca II – 3.8 miles behind the leader

    5- Valentin Gautier - Shaman - Banque du Leman 5.3 miles behind the leader
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  8. #8
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    Canaries Ahoy!



    TRACKER


    To you, to me... It's hard to know who's got the ball in their court in the extremely variable conditions currently dominating play in the Atlantic. The wind seems to have picked up again to the south-east pretty generally. The group positioned furthest over to the east that has been heavily penalised over the past twenty-four hours is looking a tad healthier this Tuesday evening. However, for much of the fleet, there is still a way to go before they can finally make landfall.

    This first leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère will certainly be etched on the sailors' minds. Now embroiled in a snail-pace race to the promised land, the solo sailors are finding it hard to know what strategy to adopt given how much the rankings are fluctuating from one position report to the next. This is particularly true amongst the production boat category, where the leaders are bunched together within a handful of miles. This morning, the trio furthest west made up of Rémi Aubrun (Alternative Sailing – Constructions du Belon), Erwan le Draoulec (Emile Henry) and Benoît Sineau (Cachaça 2) was leading the slog to the finish. However, since midway through the afternoon, the group favouring the east appear to be benefiting from a better angle in relation to the wind to make Las Palmas. Valentin Gautier (Shaman – Banque du Léman) has snatched pole position, with others also likely to reap the dividends, including Clarisse Crémer (TBS), back in sixth position and credited with the top speed of the production boat fleet. In such shifty conditions, it would seem that the best strategy is to stick to your guns in the hope that your initial options will ultimately pay off. Traversing the race zone is the best way to be completely out of step with the capricious breeze... and yet temptation is a powerful force.

    A bunched finished?
    In the prototype category, the battle is also set to rage between Arthur Léopold-Léger (Antal XPO) and Ian Lipinski (Griffon.fr), the latter a tad faster than his adversary. Is this slight difference in speed enough to make up the deficit of nearly 18 miles between the two competitors? As a general rule, Arthur's lead should be enough to be confident of taking the crown. However, in light of the conditions offshore of the African coast, it's still all to play for. Indeed, it's nigh on impossible to predict for whom or when victory will be sealed, though it would seem reasonable to gamble on a mid-morning showdown.

    Not so sweet Madeira
    For those skippers still sailing offshore of Madeira, the big question is more about whether they'll make the finish before their nearest and dearest have had to jump on a plane back home. There are still 300 miles to go for Martin Callebaut (Extasea), Andreas Deubel (www.andreasdeubel.com), Marc Miro Rubio (Alfin) and friends. In normal trade wind conditions, it could be a done deal in 48 hours. For now though, they'll just have to sit pretty until the wind kicks back in. Once again, the Mini-Transat is certainly earning its nickname of the 'longest of transatlantics'.
    Ranking at 15:00 UTC

    Prototypes
    1- Arthur Léopold-Léger - Antal XPO – 78.4 miles from the finish

    2- Ian Lipinski - Griffon.fr - 17.8 miles behind the leader

    3- Erwan Le Mené - Rousseau Clôtures – 47.8 miles behind the leader

    4- Romain Bolzinger - Spicee.com - 49.9 miles behind the leader

    5- Simon Koster -Eight Cube Sersa- 56.9 miles behind the leader

    Production boats
    1- Valentin Gautier - Shaman - Banque du Leman 118.4 miles from the finish

    2- Erwan Le Draoulec - Emile Henry – 9.1 miles behind the leader

    3- Rémi Aubrun - Alternative Sailing - Constructions Du Belon – 9.3 miles behind the leader

    4- Benoit Sineau - Cachaca II – 12.1 miles behind the leader

    5- Ambrogio Beccaria - Alla Grande Ambeco – 14.7 miles behind the leader
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  9. #9
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    Lipinski Takes Legs 1

    Fire and ice

    - Less than two minutes separate the top two

    - Ian Lipinski (Griffon.fr) winner at the finish of leg one

    - Arthur Léopold-Léger (Antal XPO) the surprise runner-up






    Ultimately there was very little separating the top two sailors with their radically different temperaments and track records at the end of this first leg. The former had the status of defender in this race and was constantly calling himself into question regarding his position within the Mini fleet. The second had decided to consider this race as a journey of self-discovery with nothing to lose enjoying what he can come to the circuit to search for.

    One came from north-west, the other from the north-east and yet Arthur Léopold-Léger and Ian Lipinski ended up crossing tacks barely two miles from the finish of this first leg. Another hundred metres or so and we might have seen a reversal of the ranking, that's how close a call it was for the top two.

    No news is...
    Right out of the blue, Arthur Léopold-Léger admitted: "In the end I've spent more time on the boat during this leg than throughout the whole of the pre-season events..." And so it was that the Mini-Transat La Boulangère wasn't necessarily the most pressing of concerns for this sailor from La Rochelle, whose primary focus of late has revolved around developing his business as a company director. Indeed, this 2017 edition was in part an opportunity to set the record straight following the 2013 edition, and also about undertaking a voyage that he had been promising himself for over ten years. To ensure he had a positive experience to take away from this first leg, Arthur decided never to listen to the rankings and to sail his own race. It was only on the final approach to the Canaries that he realised that he was about to pull off a blinder.






    Under pressure
    Ian Lipinski is quick to acknowledge the fact that if there is one point he needs to work on, it's maintaining the even temperament required by any good racer. For the past two years, the sailor from Lorient has become rather accustomed to reigning supreme in the Mini races and now, for the first time, he has felt the very real pressure of a fellow competitor, who posted a more pugnacious performance than planned. Despite knowing his boat inside out, Ian also knew that the very light airs wouldn't give him the edge, especially given the fact that he sometimes finds it hard to maintain the Olympian calm necessary for successfully negotiating light conditions. Convinced last night that some of his rivals had already arrived in Las Palmas, this morning's discovery of the day's ranking proved to be a lovely surprise and with his spirits buoyed, the sailor becomes invincible once more. A fact he proved once more in this first leg.




    Quotes from the boats:
    Ian Lipinski: "For the past two days, all I've seen is my rivals making up tens of miles on me. It's felt like I wouldn't get through this. As you don't know where the others are, your mind soon starts racing and you imagine that you're the only one to have gone off on a limb on a catastrophic option. Last night, I was convinced that a whole bunch of skippers had already made it into Las Palmas. My game plan at that point was to limit the damage, not go for the win.
    The race isn't all about these last 300 miles either though. Once again, I've had an absolute ball sailing this boat. I've discovered lots more things, another way of using my keel to make the boat lighter and a new way of helming in heavy seas. This boat is such a melting pot of considerations that you feel like you'll never cover all the angles. Roll on the second leg with some beefy trade winds, that's all I ask..."

    Arthur Léopold-Léger: "The first two days I was ill and in such conditions it's hard to get the boat making headway properly. I listened to the rankings and I was tenth in the prototype category, which was a long way off what I was aiming for. At that point, I decided I wasn't going to listen to them any more, just sail my own race and do my best. I pushed the boat flat out on rounding the TSS, in seas that weren't great, and that enabled me to pick my way up through the fleet as I'm essentially a racer at heart. After that, the end of the course was more peaceful. On a personal level, I don't have a problem with light airs and I manage to stay calm and focused. It was only once I found myself neck and neck with Ian that I understood I'd ranked well."

    Ranking at 15:00 UTC

    Prototypes
    1- Ian Lipinski - Griffon.fr – finished on 11 October at 13h 22mn 12s (UTC)

    2- Arthur Léopold-Léger - Antal XPO - arrived on 11 October at 13h 24mn 05s (UTC)

    3- Erwan Le Mené - Rousseau Clôtures – 39.8 miles from the finish

    4- Romain Bolzinger - Spicee.com - 0.3 miles behind

    5- Aurélien Poisson – TeamWork – 12.7 miles behind

    Production boats
    1- Valentin Gautier - Shaman - Banque du Léman 20 miles from the finish

    2- Rémi Aubrun - Alternative Sailing - Constructions Du Belon – 16.9 miles behind the leader

    3- Clarisse Crémer (TBS) 17 miles behind the leader

    4- Erwan Le Draoulec - Emile Henry – 19.9 miles behind the leader

    5- Benoit Sineau - Cachaca II – 27.1 miles behind the leader
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  10. #10
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    A Floodgate Of Finishers





    Valentin Gautier on the up

    - The Swiss sailor's easterly option secures him the win

    - Sailing blind

    - Filled with confidence for the second leg


    By securing victory in the first leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère, Valentin Gautier (Shaman – Banque du Léman) has swept away the doubts that had bombarded him after a rather chaotic pre-season. Indeed, after winning the Pornichet Select, he was subsequently forced to retire from two other races and hadn't been able to train as much as he would have liked.

    Seemingly, he has quickly found his bearings again. Indeed, upon arriving in La Rochelle, somewhat undermined by a season which hadn't gone according to plan, Valentin Gautier was able to dig deep and move up towards the front of the fleet from the start of the race. Always in the match right from the Bay of Biscay, he rapidly got amongst it with the small group of favourites who were monopolising the top spots.

    For all that, the crossing wasn't a long, calm river. The victim of an electronic black-out, he then had to sail with a damaged navigation system, which meant he was unable to pick up data related to the true wind direction. Also lamenting a broken VHF, he had no contact with the other race boats and was unable to track their respective positions with the AIS. As a result, Valentin sailed his race using solely his intuition. And clearly his instinct is sound because over the last days of calm conditions, he sought a course further to the east of the rest of the fleet, which enabled him to gain a decisive edge at the crucial moment. However, even for a Swiss sailor, the last twenty-four hours of the race proved to be particularly trying. Evidently it was a great idea to compete in the Cinq Jours du Léman endurance race on Lake Geneva this summer!









    Valentin Gautier: "It was long, a bit hard, but great too! In the calm conditions, I told myself that it had been a wise move to compete in the 5 jours du Léman (the longest endurance race on an inland waterway in Europe) by way of preparation! (Laughs). Seriously though, it was tough. Last night, I really thought I was going mad, particularly at one point when I saw lights going backwards. I thought it was Ambrogio (Beccaria) then on listening to the ranking this morning, I understood that it was the guys vying for third place in the Prototype category. Nevertheless, it was still quite unbearable. Things were going every which way...

    At Cape Finisterre, there wasn't as much breeze as all that. The same was true later on too. I was expecting to get a real pummelling but we only got a slight pasting, though it was great all the same. After that particular phase the race got a little more complicated, especially given that I had some electronics issues over the last five days. In the calm conditions, I'll leave it to your imagination what a jumble it was... I don't really know what happened. I had an NKE black-out. Fortunately, I still managed to pick up the apparent wind and the autopilot worked in compass mode.

    First place is very cool. I've had a bit of a complicated season. I won the first event and then I had two retirements in a row; the first due to injury and the second as a result of material damage. Since then, I'd done no singlehanded Mini races at all. I needed to reassure myself a little. Inevitably, pocketing this first leg in the production boat category is really neat. Now I just have to make sure I have fun in the second leg because however things play out, my Transat is a success."






    Second service

    - The group of latecomers expected at around 22:00pm local time (21:00 UTC)

    - Fred Guérin has left La Coruña

    - Barring a few exceptions, everyone in Las Palmas by tomorrow lunchtime


    They took their time, but the trade winds now seem to have kicked back in. As a result, the group of around thirty or so racers, becalmed to the north of the latitude of Madeira, has got some wind in its sails again for the final straight to the Canaries. For these sailors, the race has been transformed into their very own adventure.



    There may well be a few illusions shattered within the second group making its way towards the Canaries, some of whom will be competitors who had high hopes in terms of the leader board. They'll have to switch their game plan now. Racking up a deficit of over twenty-four hours in relation to the head of the fleet translates as no hope in the overall ranking, though there is always the second leg still to cover of course.






    A lasting adventure


    Fortunately, competing in the Mini-Transat doesn't simply come down to the boat's position on the scoreboard. It's a much more personal journey, experienced in an entirely different manner from one skipper to the next, according to their temperaments. Sometimes, competing in the Mini-Transat is also about accepting that you are going to lose contact with your rivals who, very often, are men and women you have got to know and like over the course of the previous two seasons on the Mini circuit. It's also about trying to overcome the doubts that inhabit the solo sailor, who only have a limited amount of information about the weather, their position and that of the others, and the weather forecasts. Some thrive in such situations, discovering another side to their personality that is sometimes very different to their life on shore. Others find a way around the situation, running through possible scenarios throughout the day that might fuel the race, immersing themselves in books that they'll never get to the end of and establishing routines that will enable them to pass the time.


    Together, that's all

    At the tail end of the fleet, the stimulus of competition has an altogether different density. You don't battle in the same way for a place on the podium or a fortieth place. As such, it is no coincidence that within the chasing pack, the groups are made up according to the vagaries of the breeze and according to affinities sometimes too. Within these small maritime communities, there's a lot of chatting over VHF, alerting one another when you're going to sleep and where the boat is heading under autopilot, even warning of key moments such as when you're going to put in a tack. Less pressure, more well-being, such is the rule. The propaganda that rages among the leaders is substituted here by a kind of gentleman's agreement where you avoid going it alone, to the detriment of performance at times. The slight delays amassed also cause a slight fracturing of the fleet, which can create gaping chasms, as is the case during this first leg. The first train of skippers has been in the station for a good while already, but the second, slower one has its own unique charm. Right at the back of the fleet, Fred Guérin (Les-amis.fun), who has now left La Coruña but is no longer officially racing having exceeded the 72-hour deadline for his pit-stop, is having an altogether different kind of experience: ultra-marine solitude.
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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