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Thread: Mini Transat Now Just 5 Days Out

  1. #11
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    1st Boats Due In Sunday Morning

    Less than two days till the verdict!

    The leaders in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère have passed the latitude of Madeira this evening. Though they can almost glimpse the finish of this first leg to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the end of the course promises to be a bit of a struggle in light airs. The first ETAs are likely from Sunday morning. For now, François Jambou (prototype) and Ambrogio Beccaria (production boat) are holding rank up front. Astern, numerous competitors are lamenting technical woes, which are more or less complicated to deal with. On a pit stop since Tuesday in La Coruña, Jonathan Chodkiewiez has announced his retirement.


    The women and men signed up for the Mini-Transat La Boulangère will have certainly earned a warm welcome on their arrival in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria! Whatever their ranking, they’ll have to battle right the way to the finish, get on top of their fatigue and possible technical issues, and contend with a fickle weather forecast.

    Reaching the denouement

    At the 16:00 UTC position report, François Jambou (865) was only 200 miles from the finish, still trailed by Axel Tréhin (945) and Tanguy Bouroullec (969). Italian Ambrogio Beccaria (943), leader in the production boat category, had 270 miles to go at the same time. Given the expected weather conditions, that’s both a little and a lot! Indeed, the wind is set to continue to drop away dramatically and the approach on the Canaries promises to be complicated. The front runners will have to exploit every little vein of breeze, which won’t be easy given the little weather information they have at their disposal. In both categories, there might well be a last-minute upset in the ranking.

    A race against the clock for David Kremer near Vigo and Louis-Xavier Lamiraud on a pit stop in Peniche, whilst Luca Rosetti’s tracker is now working

    David Kremer (260) is still on a pit stop in Baiona, in northern Spain, after the transom pulled out of his prototype. However, a kind act of solidarity is in force as two of David’s friends have hit the road to help him get the prototype out of the water and re-laminate and reinforce the transom. However, it’s a race against the clock to complete the repairs and head back out onto the racetrack within the 72 hours permitted for a pit stop.

    Louis-Xavier Lamiraud (479) has made it to the port of Peniche, to the North of Lisbon. He’s broken the system connecting his autopilot and his back-up system isn’t playing ball. Louis-Xavier plans to effect repairs and hit the racetrack again as soon as possible.

    At the request of Race Management, Luca Rosetti (342) has fired up his emergency positioning beacon. Luca is well and can now be located on the cartography once more.

    Pit stop for Yann Blondel, repairs mid-ocean for Marie-Amélie Lénaerts

    There is certainly a flurry of technical woes at the moment. Yann Blondel (836) will be stopping off at Leixões, near Porto, though he is yet to indicate the nature of the problems he’s encountered. Marie-Amélie Lénaerts (833) is experiencing an issue with her steering system. The Belgian sailor is currently hove to in a bid to repair it. Guillaume Coupé (906) has hit a UFO (unidentified floating object) and is checking his boat hasn’t suffered too much. As for Morten Bogacki (934) and Damien Garnier (788), it’s likely they’re encountering autopilot problems. Valiantly bringing up the rear after his pit stop, Briton Joe Lacey is zigzagging his way around the north-west tip of Spain and in another 39 hours or so the wind should actually turn in his favour at last! For certain sailors then, the 1,350 miles separating La Rochelle and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria have become quite an epic…

    Accessing the Mini-Transat from… Poland

    Poland’s links with the Mini-Transat date right back to the very first edition of the race, which in 1977 set sail from Penzance in the UK, bound for Antigua via Tenerife. Of the 23 entries, Pole Kasimierz Jaworski (Spanielek) sailed an absolute blinder to secure a much deserved second place. Today, there are actually 7 Mini 6.50s based in Poland – ranging from a virtual museum piece, prototype No.29 built way back in 1989, right up to three much more modern production and prototype boats with numbers upward of 900. The newest of these is No.961 (Michal Weselak Racing) skippered by Michal Weselak, who is the only Pole in this 2019 edition of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère.

    Michal describes his journey to the Mini-Transat start line before setting sail from La Rochelle: “I started sailing just 8 years ago during my studies. I thought it would be good for me and that I might have a talent for it. My work relates to educating young people back in Poland aboard sail training ships, by showing them what life at sea is all about and how to sail. One night, whilst on watch aboard the ship, I decided that I needed something more in my life if I too was to become a better sailor, which is my main goal in this race. I thought about which class would be the best way to get experience. Imoca is too expensive for me and it’s not on my horizon back in Poland; the same is true for the Class40 and the Figaro. Then the idea of the Mini came to me and for a couple of months I researched ways to get aboard one. My Polish friend Radoslaw Kowalczyk, who’s done the Mini Transat himself, has the old boat 790, so that was my ticket onto the scene through rebuilding her and starting to learn how to sail her efficiently. It’s taken about 3 seasons to learn the necessary skills, how to work on deck, how to splice and so on. I then managed to scrape together enough money to buy the fully carbon 961 and I’ve been putting in a lot of work preparing her for this race.”

    Michal has had a particularly tough journey to the start line, at times being so short of money that he hasn’t been able to afford to buy bread. Speaking to him it’s evident that he has always had fire in his belly though, and this is what is driving him down the Atlantic, nearly level with the Strait of Gibraltar in 16th place in the prototype fleet at 16:00 UTC this Friday.

    “It’s very hard accessing the Mini from Eastern Europe because it’s about 3 times more expensive for us than it is for French sailors, for whom all the relevant networks are readily available and accessible. I’m now completely broke, but there are things you can’t buy in life. Happiness is one of them and I hope I will take that away from this race, and I also hope to learn lots for my career and for my life going forward. Racing a Mini competitively isn’t just about learning to be a good sailor. It teaches you how to manage your life. You have to manage your budget, the work on deck, the transport of the boat and the logistics. This is important for my career as I am still young. The Mini Class is hard to access when you’re not French, especially when you don’t speak the language and Poland is a poor country by comparison. However, if ever you have any questions regarding your boat, fellow sailors will help you so it is like a big family. I feel very welcome here, especially from the organisation and other overseas competitors and I’ve met some very nice sailors here of all nationalities.”

    Like a number of the competitors, Michal had to quit his job in order to find the time to get out on the water and amass a decent amount of experience on the Mini circuit to prepare every element of his boat. In this way, he’s managed to compete in 2 Battle of Gotland races, 3 Around Gotlands, 2 Szczecin-Gdansk races including a race record and the 1000 Mile North Sea Race. In 2019, he’s completed the Gran Premio d’Italia, Mini en Mai, the Marie-Agnes Peron Trophy and the Mini Transat, usually finishing around mid-fleet.

    “I feel nervous about this race. It’s my first transatlantic passage. I feel that my boat is well-prepared though and I think I have a safe boat. It’s all about balance at the end of the day.” Hopefully, within that balance he will find some time to give himself a good pat on the back because he’s worked really, really hard to get where he is today, powering through the Atlantic as his compatriot did 42 years ago.


    Ranking on Friday 11 October at 16:00 UTC


    1- François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) 200.6 miles from the finish
    2- Axel Tréhin (945 – Project Rescue Ocean) 25.5 miles behind the leader
    3- Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Cerfrance) 38.9 behind the leader


    1- Ambrogio Beccaria (943 - Geomag) 272.6 miles from the finish
    2- Félix De Navacelle (916 – Youkounkoun) 22.6 behind the leader
    3- Julien Letissier (869 – Reno Style) 27.6 behind the leader

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  2. #12
    Protos certainly are faster than production boats.

    Would have thought they would be closer.

  3. #13
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    Canaries Within Reach: Leader Under 20 NM


    The denouement of the first leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère is imminent in the prototype category! At 15:00 UTC this Sunday, François Jambou was just 30 miles from the finish in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Tanguy Bouroullec and Axel Tréhin were respectively 15 and 25 miles shy of the leader. François Jambou is expected on the finish line from 19:00 UTC. This estimate is subject to change given the very light wind conditions reigning over the Canaries. To follow this three-way match race up close, the cartography ( is now updating every hour. In the production boat category, victory is likely to be played out between Ambrogio Beccaria and Félix de Navacelle. At 15:00 UTC, Ambrogio was leading the way some 80 miles from the finish. The podium for the production boats should be revealed tomorrow, Monday.

    François Jambou leads the fleet and Proto Division

    This was not really the scenario that the favourites in the prototype category had envisaged when they set sail from La Rochelle on Saturday 2 October. François Jambou, Tanguy Bouroullec, Axel Tréhin and the others were expecting a very quick race and the routing was promising. However, experienced sailors as they are, they knew only too well that it certainly wasn’t a done deal.

    Ambrogio Beccaria Leads The Series Division

    Denouement this evening (or tonight?) in the prototype category

    The 1,350 miles leading to Las Palmas have been complex and punctuated by a wide range of weather conditions that have really put the sailors to the test. The finale in light airs is doubtless especially demanding. François Jambou, Tanguy Bouroullec and Axel Tréhin will be the first to tell all on the pontoons in Las Palmas. At 15:00 UTC, François Jambou seemed well placed to take the win, just 30 miles from the finish line and racking up about 5 knots of boat speed. He might well cross the line at around 19:00 UTC, that is unless the wind drops right away off Las Palmas turning the last few miles into a very hard slog, made all the harder by having two of your closest pursuers breathing down your neck.

    Verdict tomorrow in the production boat category

    Given the light wind conditions, it’s hard to go by the routing and establish a precise ETA for the different skippers. In the production boat category, we’ll very likely discover the podium winners in the second half of the day. At 15:00 UTC, Ambrogio Beccaria was still leading the fleet, tailed by Félix de Navacelle and Julien Letissier, the latter likely to be pleasantly surprised by his performance in this first leg. Tomorrow, we’re expecting a great slew of arrivals as there is a compact group hot on the heels of the top trio.

    83 skippers out on the racetrack and some substantial separation

    Yesterday evening, following on from the retirement of Czech skipper Pavel Roubal (908), Jonathan Chodkiewiez (958) and Jean-Baptiste Ternon (880), a fourth retirement was announced by Yann Blondel (836), who decided that he didn’t have enough time to effect repairs in Leixões near Porto. Indeed, on top of energy issues, he also lost use of his autopilot and had a broken rudder pintle.

    Lamenting some technical issues but not planning a pit stop at this stage are Guillaume Coupé (906), who hit a whale 3 days ago, causing popping of the structural floor of his boat and movement of the keel. Inevitably the boat has suffered some delamination, which he hopes to repair in the Canaries and, in the meantime, he is not pushing the boat too hard. Spanish sailor Miguel Rondon (954) has no power aboard but is continuing his race. The rudder fitting on the boat skippered by Axelle Pillain (781) has unscrewed itself and cracked so she’s strapped it up in a bid to make it safe. As for Thomas Gaschignard (539) and Bruno Simmonet (757), their energy woes are presently resolved thanks to Saturday’s sunshine.

    Back out on the racetrack at last, Briton Joe Lacey (963) has finally got Cape Finisterre behind him and is making nearly 5 knots en route to the Canaries and David Kremer is making around 7 knots in more favourable conditions off the coast of Portugal. Both courageous skippers are sure to be delighted to finally be heading in the right direction after their technical issues…


    Ranking on Sunday 13 October at 15:00 UTC


    1- François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) 30.1 miles from the finish
    2- Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Cerfrance) 15.5 miles behind the leader
    3- Axel Tréhin (945 – Project Rescue Ocean) 25.5 miles behind the leader


    1- Ambrogio Beccaria (943 - Geomag) 80.1 miles from the finish
    2- Félix De Navacelle (916 – Youkounkoun)10.5 miles behind the leader
    3- Julien Letissier (869 – Reno Style) 25.1 miles behind the leader

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  4. #14
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    Podium Places Decided In 1st Leg 2019 Mini Transat le Boulangere

    Production boats: Ambrogio Beccaria sails a blinder and Félix De Navacelle and Matthieu Vincent complete the podium
    Crossing the finish line in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria at 04:30 UTC, Ambrogio Beccaria took the win in the first leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère, after 8 days, 19 hours, 52 minutes and 07 seconds of racing. Event favourite in the production boat category, the Italian skipper held rank despite a complex scenario and a tightly bunched pack of pursuers on his tail. Félix De Navacelle secured second place, 1 hour and 43 minutes behind Ambrogio and Matthieu Vincent completed the podium (2 hours and 40 minutes behind the winner).

    Here’s the low-down from these three sailors.


    Ambrogio Beccaria

    1st Ambrogio Beccaria (Geomag): “I am so happy! I didn’t think I was in the lead. Yesterday morning, I didn’t listen to the weather and the rankings as I was sure I’d lost all the lead I’d had overnight. I thought everyone was positioned to the West and with the breeze kicking back in from the South-West, I believed I’d lost it all, especially as I knew that Félix was very close. As such, I stopped myself sleeping and eating for at least 15 hours in a bid to sail as quickly as possible and not have any regrets. I seriously doubted myself. I told myself that it wasn’t serious, that if I was third that was still good. I first started doubting that when I heard the sailors on the prototypes talking over the VHF and thought how strange it was. In the end, I discovered that everyone was positioned to the East. I’ve taken the win in this first leg and it’s really very cool! We had some very varied conditions. I wasn’t expecting a leg like that at all. It was very hard on the nerves. Exiting Biscay was complicated: the pressure at the start, the sea state, everyone was a bit sick… After that, we really pushed hard along the coast of Portugal to end up with these calm conditions at the finish. It was terrible! I’m pleased to have been the first to finish. After that, it’s a race against the clock. If I’m first with a 10-minute lead that’s not very much, if it’s 2-3 hours that’s already better. So I’m awaiting the arrival of Félix, I don’t know where he is.”

    Felix De Navacelle

    2nd Félix De Navacelle (Youkounkoun): “It’s been great to have managed to hold onto this position since Cape Finisterre ! Over the last two days, when you see how far it is to the finish, you say to yourself that you really have to pull out all the stops to hang on in there. The best moment was when I heard over the daily link-up that I was first for the first time: total ecstasy! That’s also where I discovered the pressure of no longer having anyone to chase. I tried all I could to ensure I had no regrets. There are plenty of times where you’re latent and unable to motivate yourself to do things. I forced myself to move, to stay active and clear-headed. I stuck to the recommended slots for sleeping. I’m ready to go again! I really got into the rhythm and I was really at ease aboard. The boat worked fantastically well. I had to climb to the top of the mast twice. Little adventures in themselves. I believe I managed to have fun in this race, which isn’t necessarily that easy on a Mini when you’re flat out.

    Matthew Vincent

    3rd Matthieu Vincent (L’Occitane en Provence): “I’m third?! Ah, I wasn’t aware! Wow, that’s great! It’s been a long hard battle. It took me 2-3 days to get into it as it was a bit hard to leave the family and I felt a lot of nostalgia. We had it all out there, happy times and some very tough times. I had a fair amount of damage, but just learning that I’m third makes me forget all the hardships I’ve had over the past 8 days. It’s incredible. It was a great leg but also very hard psychologically. As usual, I’ve struggled with the solitude and remoteness. As soon as you have people around you it’s okay, but as soon as I end up on my own, it’s hard to deal with. To my mind the Mini-Transat really is a personal challenge rather than my idea of fun. Today, I feel pretty proud of myself. I had a fair few incidents during this leg. I did a somersault! I knew the bow was burying in but not to that extent. I was on my knees putting a reef in the mainsail and the boat was submerged up to her mast almost and I was projected overboard. I ended up in the water, the boat drove down and then broached at 90°. It was mega full-on… On top of that I had to scale the mast for the first time at night, something I’ve never done and it was an opportunity to try it! The end of the course was cool. Battling with Amélie, Nico and Julien was really nice. We really had some good conditions, we were able to get some rest and get back into a normal rhythm of life, because quite honestly along the coast of Portugal it was really hardcore. Now it’s time to make the most of the atmosphere, friends and family who will come along and savour the good times.”


    Tréhin, Jambou, Bouroullec: The prototype podium done and dusted in 26 minutes!

    The denouement of the first leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère unfolded with incredible suspense in the prototype category overnight in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. In very light airs, the three main movers and shakers of this 1,350-mile course setting sail from La Rochelle fought for victory right to the wire and ultimately it was Axel Tréhin who was first across the finish line (02:36 UTC) after 8 days, 17 hours, 58 minutes and 28 seconds of racing. Taking second was François Jambou (6 minutes and 22 seconds behind the winner) and Tanguy Bouroullec (26 minutes and 07 seconds after the first place). The three sailors give us the low-down on this extraordinary first act.


    Axel Trehin

    1st Axel Tréhin (Project Rescue Ocean): “This first leg really had it all. There was breeze, less breeze, some upwind, some downwind and a bit of reaching…. There were moments where strategy was called for and others where pure speed was the order of the day. It was really interesting. We were expecting it to be a fairly quick straight line run after Cape Finisterre. In the end the game opened right back up and it was important to be versatile. I was beginning to fret yesterday. I said to myself that François (Jambou) and Tanguy (Bouroullec) had got there before the wind died, but then I heard some chatter on the VHF and understood that they were stuck next to each other. I was absolutely stoked! I positioned myself to the right of them and that’s exactly where the fresh breeze came from. I drew virtually level with them with the pressure. At the last minute, there was a big lift to the right, like a gift from heaven and that was it, a done deal! There is precious little separating me from François and Tanguy, we’re tied, except I won! That’s a great feeling going forward and certainly better than last time where I was 2nd in the first leg. Next up, I want to sail a good second leg to finish off the job. We’re really going to be given a run for our money so it’ll be a heck of a battle, but I’m not worried!”

    Francois Jambou

    2nd François Jambou (Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune): “I found this leg tough. Mentally, windless zones are complicated. The descent along the coast of Portugal was boisterous and you could easily have broken everything. To my mind, the boat was leaping like never before. The waves were really steep and it felt like the boat was going to open up every time. I had a great lead of up to 40 miles. When I arrived off Gran Canaria there was 10 knots of breeze and I couldn’t see anyone on the AIS. I thought I had the race in the bag, but that’s not how things panned out at all. Axel and Tanguy came back into the game with the pressure and there was nothing I could do. Axel was driving in at 8 knots and I was making 0. I got going again once he was beside me but I didn’t have the right sail. It’s hard to finish 2nd when you’ve led for five days, but that’s also what makes offshore racing so great; the fact that there are always twists and turns. It’s a race and we’re all keen to win. But I’m 2nd and I’m not going to be a spoilsport. I was beaten by a very good sailor. I’ve satisfied the objective I had at the start; I’m still in the game. Axel, Tanguy and I are tied. Outright victory is still very much within our grasp. I’m determined to succeed in the second leg.”

    Tanguy Bouroullec

    3rd Tanguy Bouroullec (Cerfrance): “I’m really happy to have made the finish and secured a spot on the podium! It was one hell of a finish with Axel and François. There was a lot of suspense at the end. It didn’t work out for me, but the gap isn’t catastrophic. I’d been trying to make a comeback for the past 3-4 days so as to limit the damage, because I knew that François had the edge. I lost some ground when I tore my medium spinnaker along the coast of Portugal so I finished the leg under-canvassed. All three of us arrived in Las Palmas together. Axel had a 7-mile deficit a few hours ago and just managed to overtake us at the end. It’s pretty crazy! After that, François and Axel finished with a match race two miles in front of me. It cost me a 26-minute deficit in the end but I’ll take that. It’s still all to play for in the second leg! The exit from the Bay of Biscay wasn’t easy. Two fronts rolled over the top of us. After that, the sea was really violent in the Portuguese trade winds. I had some breakage. It wasn’t easy. For two and half days it was pretty hard in fact and it was important to reduce your sail area so as not to break everything. The rest of the leg from there was fairly quiet. We had to dig deep to make up the ground on François, but conditions were nice. A bit of breeze and sunshine, the perfect way to finish! I wasn’t able to really put the foils to good use. I didn’t fly in the Portuguese trade wind, instead I was trying to stall my progress so as to avoid damage. However, they did enable me to make up some ground on François, and I made good headway.”


    A special mention to the two ladies below which were not only the 1st women in their respected divisions but also bot just narrowly off
    the podium for overall in the same!

    Amelie Grassi 5th in Series

    Marie Gendron 4th in Proto
    Last edited by Photoboy; 10-15-2019 at 10:22 AM.
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