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Thread: Mini Transat Now Just 5 Days Out

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    Mini Transat Now Just 5 Days Out




    - Five days to go till the 22nd Mini-Transat La Boulangère
    - The Prologue postponed until Friday
    - The Mini-Transat, one big family



    D-5! On Sunday 22 September, at 14:15 hours, the 87 entries in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère will set sail from La Rochelle on the first leg to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. In the meantime, they’ll be able to make the most of a warm-up lap during the Prologue, which has been switched to Friday (instead of Wednesday) due to the steady breeze announced tomorrow and Thursday in the bay of La Rochelle.

    In the meantime, preparations are continuing and the Mini-Transat La Boulangère sailors are enjoying the rather heartwarming pre-race atmosphere. It’s the famous ‘Mini spirit’, a combination of mutual aid (on shore as well as at sea), of sharing, of fraternity and of conviviality… Some of the participants took some time out to respond to the vast question: “what does the Mini spirit represent”?



    It’s a paradox: lots of sailors in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère have never enjoyed such an entourage and such support before signing up for this singlehanded offshore race. The ‘Mini sailors’ make up one big family, united around the same (all-consuming) passion and a common challenge: to cross the Atlantic on the smallest offshore racing boats in the world.



    The key philosophy, mutual aid
    “For me, the Mini spirit is a human bond between people who give the same energy to realising their dream. We’re all building a house of cards together, each in our own unique way, benefiting the community”, explains Guillaume Coupé (906). “The fact that we don’t have a shore team, forces us to turn to the others for help. We need them to mount our solo projects. In fact, our Mini sailor friends become our shore team”, explains Jean-Baptiste Ternon (880). “We want to get across to the other side, but we also want our mates to make it to Martinique. As such, when we have time to help the others with their preparation, we go for it without a moment’s thought” says Thibault Blanchet (774), who was securing his rudders with the help of his brother today after losing one in a previous race.



    For some, the mutual aid has been key to realising their project. This is notably the case of Pierre Moizan (630). “Last year, I hit a UFLO in the Les Sables-Les Açores-Les Sables race and had to abandon the boat. I took a year to rebuild her. A lot of Mini sailors helped me out, including some former members of the circuit like Adrien Hardy. Without them, I wouldn’t be here now. Their support has carried me through. Receiving all this help without asking for it is very touching.” Interestingly, the name on her transom, one James Caird, refers to the epic rescue mission by boat that was undertaken by Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men, from Elephant Island in Antarctica to South Georgia. It is surely one of the greatest small-boat journeys of all time – and another will be Pierre Moizan achieving his goal of reaching Martinique after an already epic journey to make the start line.



    Brothers and sisters at sea

    At sea, the spirit of solidarity is even more powerful. Racers within VHF range support one another, motivate one another and, if need be, offer assistance. “On the water, we are competing, but every competitor is a friend, a brother. Even the more competitive sailors don’t think twice about putting their race to one side and helping someone in difficulty”, explains the Italian sailor Daniele Nanni (659).



    Belgian sailor Marie-Amélie Lenaerts (833), who is here with around seven other sailors from the Concarneau training cluster, echoes this sentiment: “We go to the ends of the earth to help one another out. During this year’s Transgascogne, I had an electronics issue. I put out a call over the VHF and lots of racers replied and gave me a hand, even those I don’t know so well. I was kind of towards the back of the fleet and yet even the leaders took time out to advise me.”



    Memorable finishes…

    The excellent atmosphere at the finishes is another trademark of the Mini-Transat, and indeed the Mini spirit as a whole, as 34-year-old Japanese sailor Masa Suzuki explained on the dock this Tuesday. “I have been so impressed by the help and the kindness shown to me and to everyone else within our Mini community. Equally striking is the fact that no matter what your result, everyone celebrates all the finishes, at whatever time of the day or night. I’ve never witnessed that before. In fact, I feel so welcome here that I’m considering living in France, if my wife will agree!” It’s little surprise then, that his friends and his wife have travelled all the way to La Rochelle from Japan to see what this Mini spirit is all about, offer their own support and see him safely on his way on Sunday.


    In the Canaries as in Martinique, the festivities on shore match up to the level of difficulty encountered at sea. “The Mini spirit is also about ensuring you stay ‘hydrated’. Some aren’t quite so good at that side of things and we have a few worrying elements there”, jokes Christophe Brière de la Hosseraye (755), who goes on to explain that experiencing something so strong and intense brings you closer. “You can become great mates with a guy or girl who’s 10 years younger or older.”




    Leaving the Mini circuit and its spirit can lead to a form of nostalgia. “Even though I’m preparing for it, the period after the Mini scares me a bit. I’m expecting to feel a massive void on an emotional and personal level”, Guillaume Coupé admits.

    -------------------

    The Prologue postponed until Friday

    Initially scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday 18 September, the Prologue for the 22nd Mini-Transat La Boulangère has been put back to Friday. Denis Hugues, race director, explains the reasoning behind his decision: “We’re putting the prologue back as we’re expecting 25 knots of NE’ly breeze, gusting to 30. The skippers are preparing for a singlehanded transatlantic race on 6.50-metre boats. As such, it’s essential that they don’t take any risks in this prologue, the idea being to have a dress rehearsal so that the competitors get a clear picture of the start zone. On Friday the wind is set to ease and become more stable at 10-13 knots.”




    THE RACE COURSE
    1146sortie_boidevezi.jpg
    New edition for the Collectif Rochelais Mini Transat!

    DEPARTURE ON 22 SEPTEMBER 2019
    First step, with a start in front of La Rochelle, which the Mini knows well, in the Pertuis Rochelais, passage in front of the Chassiron lighthouse in Oléron, then follows a quick crossing of the Bay of Biscay to Cape Finistere in Spain, a beautiful descent along Portugal which can be done downwind for skippers towards the island of Gran Canaria.


    A second step that starts for the minis in the wind or acceleration between the Canary Islands, getting out of the archipelago is therefore the first obstacle of this second step, then join as soon as possible the trade winds that will take the skippers on long surfs towards Martinique, manage the downwind angles of descent, beware of tropical squalls, and finish with a nice finish in the Bay of the Marin, this second part is no less simple!

    A beautiful 2019 edition in prospect!


    ************************************

    Solitude is the very essence of the Mini-Transat. In a world where communication and the instantaneous circulation of news are a constant, the fundamentals of this race have remained unchanged since the first edition in 1977. Aboard Mini 6.50s there are no computers, no satellite links, no live media link-ups, no photo and video sends. It’s impossible to contact your loved ones to share the magical moments or try to get over a touch of the blues. The only link with the shore is a daily report broadcast over SSB radio by race management to give the low-down on the weather situation, the 48-hour weather forecast and the distances to the goal for each competitor.



    Cut off from the world, but potentially in contact with the other Mini sailors


    The sailors have the opportunity to communicate between one another via VHF, which has a limited range (around 10 miles). During the first leg (La Rochelle/Las Palmas de Gran Canaria), the exchanges are regular for the majority of the competitors. However, things become more complicated during the second leg to Martinique. Indeed, as the competitors spread out across the Atlantic, the exchanges become few and far between. If they’re not sailing within a group, the racers can spend days, weeks even, without uttering a single word.



    The VHF chats between mates can be a godsend then. “During Les Sables-Les Açores-Les Sables, I had a major autopilot issue”, says Benjamin Ferré (902). “I was really tired and vulnerable. After numerous days without talking to anyone, I saw a boat a long way off and discovered that it was the Mini No.697 skippered by Kevin Bloch. We chatted over VHF and I just broke down in tears. I was so happy to speak to someone…”






    Kevin Bloch also relishes these exchanges with his Mini mates, but he’s going to try to keep them to a minimum during the passage. “I like to be in the zone, without letting myself get influenced by what the others are saying to carve out my course. That way I’ll learn more”, he says. “Blubbering and laughing in the space of 10 minutes”

    The Mini-Transat requires a lot of mental strength, otherwise you crumble. “It’s an emotional yoyo, you feel like you’re three years old”, smiles Céline Sallès (514). “In the Mini, you can be blubbering and laughing in the space of 10 minutes”, confirms Sébastien Guého (909). “Thanks to the demanding qualification system, we all arrive here mentally armed to make the passage. You just have to trust yourself.”

    For some, the solitude and the lack of communication can prove to be a real challenge, particularly for the 76 rookies competing this year, like Matthieu Perraut (825): “This is the toughest aspect of the Mini-Transat for me. I’m not a through-and-through solo sailor, even though I like the idea of being the sole master of my ship. Mentally, it’s not easy to spend long periods without talking. Nobody sensible subjects themselves to such isolation. That said, it’s very interesting to confront such an experience and I’ve already learnt a lot about myself thanks to the Mini.”

    “An extraordinary journey into your inner self”

    For others, the solitude, in contact with the elements, is happiness itself, indeed it’s why they take part in the Mini-Transat. “This experience of solitude enables you to refocus on what’s important in life”, beams Jean-René Guilloux (915). “At 45, I’m at a point in my life where I can look back at what I’ve done, what successes I’ve had and what I haven’t yet had the time to do.”

    The Mini-Transat is also the opportunity to grant yourself some quality time that you just don’t get every day, as Jean Lorre (570) explains: “In my Mini, I read books, I think, I talk out loud, I sing, I listen to music and to podcasts especially. I have time to think without being disturbed by some kind of interaction or notification from a social network.”

    Benjamin Ferré refers to the Mini-Transat as an “extraordinary journey into your inner self”, a sentiment echoed by many of the racers who will set sail from La Rochelle on Sunday to enjoy what is surely the ultimate experience when it comes to a true sense of freedom, something that particularly appeals to Céline Sallès: “You leave all your problems on land. It’s just us, our boat and the ocean…”


    ------------------------


    Arnaud Machado forced to remain dockside


    Arnaud Machado (910) was one of the favourites in the production boat category. Unfortunately, he fell of his bike a few days ago, fracturing his tibia. This injury inevitably makes it impossible for him to have a second attempt at the Mini-Transat. “I’m bitterly disappointed. I wasn’t expecting that two years of preparation and sacrifice could fall through in a couple of minutes, especially as I was avoiding taking any risks as we neared the start. It’s a cruel twist of fate. I’m going to do all I can to start a programme of rehabilitation as quickly as possible so I’m ready for action again early next year.”



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    Humberto Forces Mini Transat Postponement


    Hurricane Humberto spinning in the North Atlantic

    - Start of the first leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère postponed due to the weather conditions expected in the Bay of Biscay

    - Festivities will continue on Sunday with a prologue in the bay of La Rochelle

    Initially scheduled for Sunday 22 September, the start of the 22nd edition of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère has been postponed until a later date. The reasons for this are boisterous wind conditions and sea state forecast in the Bay of Biscay and offshore of Cape Finisterre. However, Sunday's festivities in La Rochelle will continue, with the 87 sailors exiting the Bassin des Chalutiers to contest a spectacular prologue.

    "Maintaining the Sunday start is not reasonable." Race Director of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère, Denis Hugues, has taken the decision, in agreement with the organiser, to postpone the start of the first leg, originally scheduled in La Rochelle at 14:15 hours on Sunday. "For the past two days, we've been monitoring the weather forecast very closely and observing the unsettled systems in the Atlantic", he explains. "If we were to start the race on Sunday, the competitors would have to confront some very tricky conditions from Tuesday evening, with heavy seas and W/SW'ly winds averaging 30 knots, gusting to 40 knots. We've studied all the possible models, such as putting in a waypoint along the Spanish coast to avoid the worst conditions. However, that won't work for the majority of the fleet. The Bay of Biscay passage is always tricky. When the conditions aren't playing ball, this becomes dangerous."


    Sunday


    Monday

    "Getting as many sailors as possible to Martinique"


    "The Mini 6.50s are magical boats, but they are small and their design is more geared around downwind points of sail", continues Denis Hugues. "However, the competitors would find themselves in a very tricky situation, punching into the wind and sea. It's the worst-case scenario for these boats. The aim of the Mini-Transat is to get as many sailors as possible to Martinique."

    Jean-François Fountaine, Mayor of La Rochelle and President of the Greater Administrative District Council, as well as all the elected representatives, support the decision taken by the organiser and the race director of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère, whose aim is to make the sailors' safety a priority.


    Tuesday


    [IMG]ttp://pressure-drop.us/imagehost/images/29393235621547853167.jpg[/IMG]
    Wednesday



    Thursday

    Sunday's festivities are maintained with a singlehanded prologue

    Though the start of the first leg between La Rochelle and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has been postponed, there will still be plenty of action on Sunday. "We're still keen to put on a show for the spectators and the sailors' families and friends. As such, we're going to launch a singlehanded prologue in race conditions," confirms Denis Hugues. In this way, the sailors will still parade out of the Bassin des Chalutiers so the skippers' presentation will take place on Sunday between 10:00 hours and midday. Next up, at 14:15 hours, the 87 Mini 6.50s will cross the start line for the prologue in the bay of La Rochelle, which will likely be contested in some superb conditions with 15 to 20 knots of breeze.

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  3. #3
    There are 8 major disturbances in the Pacific and Atlantic right now, and one forming in the Indian Ocean.

    Tis the season.

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    Savage Storms Delay Start Of Min Transat Further



    The 22nd edition of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère will not now be able to set sail this weekend. The narrow weather window has closed and the expected forecast in the Bay of Biscay over the coming days is such that the huge fleet of Mini 6.50s cannot be safely released.

    Denis Hugues, Race Director for the Mini-Transat La Boulangère explains the reasoning for this latest postponement: “We summoned the racers today because we really believed that there was an opportunity to set sail. If a weather window presented itself, it was important to snap it up. Unfortunately, conditions have deteriorated overnight and the front expected to roll through on Tuesday has become a lot more active. We’re expecting 30-knot winds, gusting to 40 knots, and waves of 3.5 to 4 metres.” Christian Dumard, the race’s meteorologist corroborates this viewpoint: “The front is sweeping across the whole of the Bay of Biscay and it’s not possible to dip to the South of it, even by putting in place waypoints.”




    “Very complicated to set off before Wednesday”

    So when can we envisage a new weather window so the 22nd edition can kick off? “It would seem very complicated to release the boats before Wednesday”, points out Denis Hugues. “We’re also keeping a close eye on the trajectory of Hurricane Lorenzo, which remains unsettled. Some models suggest it will have an impact on the Bay of Biscay late next week, whipping up winds in excess of 50 knots.” We’ll just have to wait and see…

    Whatever happens, the stopover in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, together with the start date for the second leg (2 November), are not called into question.


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  5. #5
    Better safe than sorry.

    However, I would suspect that some of the sailors will retire before departing as their time off
    allowances or budgets have been strained.

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    The Window Cracks Open Saturday For Min Transat Start


    October 5th Prediction via windy.ty



    The waiting game is over for the 87 sailors competing in the 22nd edition of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère. Initially scheduled for Sunday 22 September, the starting signal for the first leg (La Rochelle/Las Palmas de Gran Canaria) will finally sound on Saturday 5 October. Given the tide times on Saturday in La Rochelle, the Mini 6.50s will leave the Bassin des Chalutiers between 07:30 and 09:30 hours, for a scheduled start at 10:30 hours.

    Jean Saucet, Technical Director for the Mini-Transat La Boulangère: “Conditions are set to improve in the Bay of Biscay. There’s an opening on Saturday so we’re going for it! The exit from the bay will be no picnic for the competitors, but the wind and swell will be reasonable.”

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    The Mini's Finally Escape La Rochelle



    THE MINI-TRANSAT 2019 SETS SAIL. THE OPEN OCEAN AT LAST!


    This Saturday 5 October, at 10:38 hours, the 87 sailors competing in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère set sail from La Rochelle on the first leg to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Though the event kicked off in very manageable conditions, the competitors will face a few obstacles throughout the 1,350-mile course, starting with the initial passage of a front tonight.

    Walking the dock of the Bassin des Chalutiers in La Rochelle at daybreak, cropping up again and again were the phrases: “We’ve got to getting going now!” and “It was worth the wait”. The 87 women and men competing in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère may have had to sit it out for 13 extra days before setting sail from La Rochelle, but they were relieved at the prospect of starting out in light weather conditions.





    all images ©Breschi/breschi-photo-video.com





    The calm before the storm

    It was at 10:38 hours on the dot that the impressive fleet of 87 Minis set sail from La Rochelle. It was a clean start for all the racers (no individual recalls) and no technical incidents to lament. The wind was very light (around 5 knots) and the progress upwind towards the windward mark was slow-going, making for a fine, technical navigation. The first three to round this mark were Julien Berthélémé (742), Axel Tréhin (945) and Hendrik Witzmann (920). Though it was a gentle start to the race, the next stage will be no picnic…

    First front due to roll through tonight

    It will be a complicated journey to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and before they can even think about hurtling along the Spanish and Portuguese coast, the racers will have to deal with several transitions in the Bay of Biscay. Today, they’ll continue on a beat, the wind set to gradually fill in at the end of the afternoon and into the evening. By early morning on Sunday, the leaders will likely have to contend with a front rolling through with a big wind shift from the SW to NW. In the front and also behind it, the squalls may be fairly violent, which will force the skippers to do a lot of manœuvring, notably with regards reducing their sail area. It’ll be interesting to assess the initial hierarchy after this first obstacle. Once the front has rolled through, the sailors will be able to switch onto a reach towards the middle of the Bay of Biscay. At that point, they’ll have to deal with a windless zone of high pressure.









    ------------------

    Last reactions from the sailors prior to the start of the Mini-Transat:

    Axel Tréhin (945): “The routing software is saying less than seven days”
    “We’ve got a nice weather window in which to set sail. Conditions will be manageable. We’ll have a nice Bay of Biscay with a little bit of strategy involved to make our escape. It’s going to be interesting and completely passable compared with the past fortnight. Behind that, we’ll have strong downwind conditions along the coast of Portugal. That promises to be a very fast descent towards the Canaries. Our boats are geared up for these downwind conditions. Our potential for speed is fairly quick. The routing software is saying less than seven days to get to the Canaries, which isn’t bad. We’re inside the 2015 timing, which was a fairly quick edition. We really need to get to Cape Finisterre with a favourable current because off the back of that, conditions are set to be pretty boisterous and that’s where we’ll create the greatest speed differentials!”

    Erwan Le Méné (800): “Fighting among friends”
    “I’m happy to get going, return to the fray and get out fighting among friends, all the while keeping on top of the strategy and managing ourselves. The race can be lost in this first leg. Between now and Sunday evening, each prototype will have a spell where it’s more at ease than the others. We’ll need to be on top of our game when it’s our turn and be patient when it’s not. I see us sailing within sight of one another (with the AIS at least) until midday on Monday. We mustn’t forget to rest. I hope we’ll all make the Canaries in tip-top condition so we can continue the match in the second leg.”











    Julien Letissier (869): “The adventure starts now!”
    “We’re setting off in superb conditions. It’s going to be quick. We’ll have a match on our hands… it was worth the wait. We’re really going to have a ball and with a bit of luck, we’ll all make the Canaries. We’re setting off in calm conditions. We’ll have strong wind tonight then light conditions again. Then we’ll end up fully powered up downwind. We’ll really have a bit of everything, which is good! I feel fairly calm; I slept well. I don’t feel apprehensive, just keen to get going. We’ve been preparing for all this for two years and the adventure starts now!”

    Vincent Lancien (679): “It’s going to be a very interesting race to follow on the cartography”
    “Conditions are going to be excellent. The race will be interesting to follow on the cartography as there will be a fair few meteorological events along the way with some small options to be had. It’s going to be quick and we’ll finally find why we’ve been doing this for the past two years… good downwind conditions to slip along on big waves.”

    Nicolas Tobo (392): “No stress”
    “I feel really good. There’s not a lot of wind for the start so no stress. I’ll make the most of it to try and get some good rest this afternoon with a view to the passage of the front tonight, with winds from 25 to 40 knots. It’s going to be lively for 3-4 hours, so it’s important to be in shape so as to manoeuvre well and negotiate this shift as best I can. After that, we’ll rediscover calmer conditions as far as Cape Finisterre.”
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    Mini Transat Fleet Skirt The Worst

    Still 87 at sea, technical pit stop for Briton Joe Lacey




    On the third day of racing, the 87 sailors in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère are all still at sea, led this evening by Axel Tréhin (prototype) and Ambrogio Beccaria (production). However, it’s not great news for the Briton Joe Lacey, whose diverting to Gijón where he’ll attempt to resolve his energy issues. The rest of the fleet is on a beat to Cape Finisterre, which the competitors should round over the course of tomorrow, likely with some substantial separation between the leaders and those bringing up the rear. A decision will have to be made about whether to pass to the East or West of the TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme).



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


    This Monday evening, no competitor in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère is really out on a limb. Everyone is in contact with at least one playmate. There must be lots of discussions via VHF, though some will be less keen for distraction… At every level of the fleet, small groups are forming, which is both motivating and reassuring for the sailors. One of the many examples, in the middle of the production fleet, is the four skippers with Minis of a similar generation: Frédéric Bach (533), Sébastien Liagre (589), Irina Gracheva (579) and Kevin Tritschler (550), who are just half a mile apart in terms of distance to the goal.

    Energy issues for Joe Lacey who’s planning a pit stop


    On the same longitude as the leaders in the production boat category at 14:00 hours UTC this Monday, but very much sailing his own race to the north-west of the bulk of the fleet, likely in the hope of retaining the stronger breeze for longer, Briton Joe Lacey (Earlybird Racing 963) was bang on the pace and had been making the exact same boat speed (over 6 knots) as the top placed skipper in the fleet and favourite for the series win, Italian Ambrogio Beccaria (Geomag 943).

    However, over the course of the afternoon, the situation became rather tricky for Joe who got in touch with the support boat (JPK 38 Yemanja) to alert them to his energy problems aboard his new Maxi 6.50. The British skipper is planning a pit stop in Gijón, where he hopes to be able to effect repairs and head back out onto the racetrack to complete this first leg to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. On a positive note, he is making over 10 knots en route to northern Spain and clearly has no intention of giving up.



    Félix De Navacelle’s acrobatics
    Another support boat, the TS 42 Océan Dentiste, sent a message regarding one of the leaders of the production boat category. “Félix De Navacelle on 916 made the most of his passage through a ridge of high pressure to scale his mast last night at around 20:00 UTC, with fleet leader Ambrogio Beccaria keeping watch on his 943. Sporting his helmet and equipped with his GoPro, he went to unravel his VHF aerial and his antenna that got wrapped around each other when the front rolled through. He managed to resolve the issue in under 5 minutes and make sure they were properly intertwined with tape, which will hopefully hold together till the Canaries. He has lost a little VHF range in this war in the bay, which might have been fatal for admiral NKE.”






    Cape Finisterre tomorrow

    Having negotiated a zone of high pressure last night, the Mini sailors have been on a beat this Monday in a manageable S/SW’ly wind (10 to 15 knots). The already heavy seas will increase further this evening to reach 3.5 metres. Fortunately, the waves will likely be long (14 seconds), making their passage less uncomfortable. Not very active, a front is set to influence the front runners late tonight and tomorrow morning for those further back. Anticipating the NW’ly wind shift, competitors may choose to pass to the West of the TSS at Cape Finisterre, though this will lengthen the distance to cover…


    This evening (18:00 UTC position report), Axel Tréhin (945) is still leading the prototypes, followed by François Jambou (865) and Marie Gendron (930). Among the production boats, the battle is raging between the Pogo 3, with a slight advantage going to Ambrogio Beccaria (943), who is currently outpacing Félix De Navacelle (916), Lauris Noslier (893), Pierre Le Roy (925), Benjamin Ferré (902) and Sébastien Gueho (909). The sailors with the production scow bows are still very much in the game though, including Paul Cloarec (951)and Keni Piperol (956). It’s worth noting that the latter secured 8th place in the first leg of the 2017 Transat after getting off to what he described as a “sluggish start”, and he fought even harder on the second leg to take 5th place in the prototype category taking him up to 4th place in the overall Proto ranking, absolutely smashing his pre-start objective of a place in the Top Ten! It’ll make for interesting viewing to assess their performance in the long downwind runs to come…



    Bringing up the rear of the Mini fleet on an Argo is Spaniard Raphaël Fortes (Iparbeltz 858), who worked on oil tankers until a matter of months ago. Speaking to him before the race start, it’s evident that he will just be glad to have done what he set out to do and set sail on this Mini Transat, despite all the odds seemingly being stacked against him, after and an amazing effort, on his part and that of the Race Committee, to satisfy the Class Measurement within the allotted time. And no matter what position anyone finishes, the Mini spirit is such that a rapturous welcome will be reserved for every single skipper by all those who complete the race to the Canaries.

    ---------------
    Ranking on Monday 7 October at 16:00 UTC

    PROTO

    1- Axel Tréhin (945 – Project Rescue Ocean) 1,055.7 miles to the finish
    2. François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) 6.8 behind the leader
    3- Marie Gendron (930 – Cassiopée-SNCF) 10.6 behind the leader

    PRODUCTION

    1-Ambrogio Becarria (943 – Geomag) 1,076.3 miles to the finish
    2- Félix De Navacelle (916 - Youkounkoun) 2.2 behind the leader
    ​​​​​​​3-Lauris Noslier (893 - Avoriaz 1800) 3.9 behind the leader

    ---------------
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    Full Speed Ahead For Mini Transat Fleet



    Tracker


    The competitors of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère finish with a demanding crossing of the Bay of Biscay. They enter the second major phase of the course, which is not the least exhilarating as the next few days will be at full speed. Virtually all competitors pass through the DST Cape Finisterre, aside from four sailors attempting a potentially lucrative "Wild West" option. Two sailors are forced to technical stopovers, Joe Lacey (Gijon) and Jonathan Chodkiewiez (A Coruña). In proto, François Jambou took the controls, followed very closely by Axel Tréhin. In series, Ambrogio Beccaria navigates in boss.

    The Ministries are finding what they came for, those long days of slips under spinnaker. They had to be earned and navigation is still complex around Cape Finisterre and along the Portuguese coast, particularly because of the very dense maritime traffic, requiring the utmost vigilance. The next days, sailors will slide in a north wind that should gradually strengthen, and a nice swell (more than 3 meters). It will be necessary to go fast, while controlling the boat and without going to the pile.

    Four sailors attempt an option West DST
    Morten Bogacki (934), Fabio Muzzolini (716), Julien Letissier (869) and Guillaume L'Hostis (868) are at 18h the only riders to be passed west of the DST (Device Separation of Traffic) from Cape Finisterre. They are looking for more sustained wind, move away from maritime traffic and sail on a longer swell. An option to follow with attention!




    Big games in proto and series
    The German Morten Bogacki, who makes a very nice start to the race, hopes to get back together with the top trio in proto. François Jambou (865) delighted the orders to Axel Tréhin (945). Tanguy Bouroullec (969) is more than ever in ambush. Marie Gendron (930) remains in the Top 5 and will have to resist the assaults of Raphael Lutard (900) and Erwan Le Méné (800) - among others.

    In series, Ambrogio Beccaria (943) imposes his rhythm. The Italian, always fast, is known to make very few strategic mistakes. In its wake, a very compact group intends to dethrone him. Félix de Navacelle (916) is still 2nd tonight but Julien Letissier and Guillaume L'Hostis take advantage of their West option to come back very strong: they were 3rd and 4th at 18h.





    Two competitors on technical stop

    This afternoon (French time), the accompanying boat Yemanja sent the following message to the race direction: "The 958 crosses behind us at position 43 ° 53'N 8 ° 41'W at 10:39 UTC. He is on his way to A Coruña to repair his battery problems and torn genoa. The sailor leading the Mini 6.50 # 958 is Jonathan Chodkiewiez, one of 22 competitors competing in proto. At 18h, Jonathan was approaching La Coruna.

    As for Joe Lacey, he arrived in Gijón today at 11:30, where he repairs his electrical damage and hopes to start again in the race. The minimum stopover time being 12h, it can not resume the sea from 23:30.

    The accompanying boats report some other mishaps. Guillaume Quilfen (977) is mounted on the mast to recover his spinnaker halyard. Benoît Formet (887) also let go of his big spinnaker halyard at the top of the mast. Has he attacked the perilous ascent?

    *********************************************

    72 hours after the start of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère, the fleet is already spread over more than 100 miles between the first proto and the last production boat. The sharpest competitors are this morning approaching Cape Finisterre and its famous DST, which must be avoided at all costs. This morning, Axel Tréhin (proto) and Ambrogio Beccaria (series) retain their leadership. As for the British Joe Lacey, he is approaching Gijón where he will stop to try to settle in time outsourced energy concerns.

    The fact of the night was the passage of a not very active front associated with a brutal rocking of the wind from South-West to North-West. The competitors positioned the most North benefited the first of this frank and massive rocker. On the other hand, the most southerly sailors have been slow to catch the new northwest wind.

    Approaching Cape Finisterre, the runners enjoy (finally!) Slips downwind that will continue along the Portuguese coast. The 10 o'clock position indicated that most sailors will be heading inland (ie to the east) from Cape Finisterre's DST (Traffic Separation Device). In proto, Axel Tréhin (945) and François Jambou (865) made the break, while in series the Italian Ambrogio Beccaria (943) resists the pack compact launched at his heels.

    At 10am, Joe Lacey was less than 10 miles from Gijón where he will stop after suffering energy problems aboard his Maxi 6.50 (963). Once on the ground, he will get in touch with the race management and we will know more about his intentions and the possibility, or not, to repair and restart the race.


    https://www.minitransat.fr/en


    ---------------

    Classification of Tuesday, October 8 at 10h (French time)

    PROTO

    1- Axel Tréhin (945 - Project Rescue Ocean) 966.9 miles from the finish
    2. François Jambou (865 - Team BFR Tide High Yellow) 4.4 miles from the first
    3- Tanguy Bouroullec (969 - Cerfrance) to 21.1 miles from the first

    SERIES

    1-Ambrogio Becarria (943 - Geomag) at 994.8 miles from the finish
    2- Félix De Navacelle (916 - Youkounkoun) at 6.3 miles from the first
    3-Pierre Le Roy (925 - Arthur Loyd) to 7.1 miles from the leader

    ******************************

    JONATHAN CHODKIEWIEZ (958) IS DEFEATED TOWARDS A CORUÑA


    This afternoon (French time), the accompanying boat Yemanja sent the following message to the race direction: " The 958 crosses behind us at position 43 ° 53'N 8 ° 41'W at 10:39 UTC. He is on his way to A Coruña to repair his battery problems and torn genoa. "

    The sailor leading the Mini 6.50 # 958 is Jonathan Chodkiewiez, one of 22 competitors engaged in proto. More information to come when Jonathan moored his boat in A Coruña.
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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    Full Speed Ahead For The Mini's

    The sailors’ versatility put to the test




    TRACKER


    The competitors in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère have now been at sea for over five days and they’ve already seen it in a vast array of colours. After a long run in meaty conditions, the wind has eased slight this Thursday, treating some of the sailors to a little respite. However, this reprieve will be short-lived. Indeed, another obstacle is looming over the final section of the course since a ridge of high pressure is sprawled across the path of the Mini sailors. At the 12:00 UTC position report, François Jambou (prototype) and Ambrogio Beccaria (production boat) were still leading a very scattered fleet that stretches right back to the Briton Joe Lacey, who will be relieved to round Cape Finisterre shortly.

    Following the retirement of Pavel Roubal, who was airlifted to safety last night offshore of Portugal, 86 sailors in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère are still at sea. However, two are still on a pit stop: David Kremer in Baiona and Jonathan Chodkiewiez in La Coruña. These two racers haven’t yet indicated to Race Management whether or not they’ll be able to set sail again to complete this demanding first leg between La Rochelle and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

    Meantime, the racers sprinting down the coast of Portugal are in a very quick and exhausting phase, which has been gruelling for both their bodies and their gear. We’ll find out more about that once they make the finish line and the skippers can talk about their race, but it’s highly likely that these conditions have caused a bit of damage that is hindering their progress to varying degrees. This seems to be the case for German skipper Morten Bogacki. In fact he’s been making headway at a reduced speed since this morning and is doubtless trying to resolve some technical issues.

    Jambou and Beccaria staying on track




    François Jambou is setting a furious pace in the prototype category. In 24 hours (from Wednesday 12:00 UTC to today at the same time), he’s covered an astonishing 251 miles. His direct rivals (Axel Tréhin and Tanguy Bouroullec) are struggling to keep up, but there’s still absolutely all to play for with over 400 miles to the finish, with plenty of traps along the way.

    In the production boat category, Ambrogio Beccaria is giving all he’s got and remains today’s leader after sailing his usual virtually flawless race. Julien Letissier, Félix De Navacelle and Guillaume L’Hostis are his closest pursuers. Astern of them, a compact group remains in ambush. At the 12:00 UTC position report, there were just 10 miles separating 5th (Florian Quenot) and 10th place (Lauris Noslier).


    A complicated final sprint on the cards

    Somewhat predictably perhaps, this first leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère has been varied to say the least. The sailors have had to deal with all kinds of conditions and make headway on pretty much every point of sail and it’s those sailors with versatile profiles who will have their spoils of the top spots in the Canaries.

    Though the breeze is gradually easing, it’s on Saturday that things are set to become seriously complicated as a ridge of high pressure sprawls menacingly across their path between Madeira and the Canaries. This will result in a very light, or virtually inexistent breeze. According to the latest routing, the first competitors may well make landfall in Las Palmas from Saturday night through into Sunday.



    Accessing the Mini-Transat from… Japan





    Masa Suzuki, a 34-year-old sailing consultant from Kanagwa in Japan, would doubtless say that he is finally ‘living the dream’ as he hurtles down the Atlantic, carving out a smooth wake just shy of the top third of a fleet of Mini 6.50s that set sail from La Rochelle last Saturday with 87 skippers. Positioned in an excellent 27th place among the production boat category (No.470 Masa Flat Water) at 12:00 UTC this Thursday, he is currently making over 9 knots of boat speed on a virtual run offshore of Lisbon. Through the many talks he gives back home and to the sailing team at Tokyo University in particular, hopefully there will be even more sailors representing Japan in future editions of the Mini-Transat…


    All sailors wishing to take part in the Mini-Transat are required to satisfy certain regulatory standards such as safety training and racing experience over a particular distance aboard the boat with which they intend to compete in the Mini-Transat itself. As a result, many international skippers decide to do most of their training in France and they have to overcome numerous organisational, financial and logistical problems along the way.


    Always beaming from ear to ear, Masa is easy to spot as we meet dockside in La Rochelle before the race sets sail to discuss his journey to the start line of this Mini-Transat La Boulangère 2019: “It’s been hard trying to balance out my work life and life in Japan with training for this race in Europe. Prior to this Mini-Transat, I participated in 2 races on the Mini circuit in 2018. I was 30th / 47 in the Marie-Agnès Péron Trophy in 2018 and then 33rd / 51 in the Mini Fastnet the same year. I chose not to take part in the race from Les Sables to the Azores and back as it was a big commitment timewise and I didn’t think I was experienced enough for such a long race back then and felt I needed more time to flesh out my skills. I notably secured 23rd place with Akitoshi Ichimura in the Mini Fastnet 2019. I learnt a lot from the latter race, such as how to control the boat with a variety of winds, ranging from calm to 35 knots, how to bring tactics into play in the middle of the strong current and how to keep on sailing even though I was exhausted. I realised that I still had a lot to learn about racing such as the weather, understanding sea charts and physical fitness training. The competition element was vital though because it enabled me to see whether or not I was capable of doing the Mini-Transat. I’m pleased to say that the outcome was favourable!” The Class Mini family are pleased too!

    So if you’re from a non-European country, how do you go about qualifying for the Mini-Transat? “Essentially you get in contact with the Mini Class in France and to help you prepare they have some special measures for non-European sailors, known as the DCQ (“Dérogations au Calendrier de Qualification”), which are special measures the French Race Committee has set out to enable you to be exempt from the standard qualification schedule. As a non-European, to qualify for the Mini-Transat specifically, you have to have a total of 1,500 miles racing experience on the boat with which you will compete in the Mini Transat plus 1,000 miles of non-stop singlehanded sailing as well as certification stipulating that you have successfully passed a course in safety training and radio communications. The popularity of the Mini-Transat is off the scale so it’s always oversubscribed. However, there are 6 slots available for sailors with this DCQ so you just have to be as committed as you can be to your Mini campaign and then hope your number comes up. It works on a first come, first served basis once you’re qualified.”

    It should be noted that there is presently no EU visa waiver for Japanese citizens for stays of less than 90 days. After 2021, though, Japanese citizens traveling to Europe from Japan will need an ETIAS visa waiver, that will be valid for 3 years. During those 3 years of validity, Japanese passport holders will be able to spend 90 days in the Schengen area during any 180-day period for business, tourism or transit purposes. For longer stays or for trips for other purposes, a Schengen visa for Japanese citizens, or an appropriate national visa will be necessary.

    “Your main focus should be getting in as much training as you can and, if possible, sign up to a specialist Mini training hub. If there isn’t one in your country then try to use up any holiday time training in France, find yourself a temporary base near a training cluster, in my case Lorient, where I train when I can at the very popular and highly successful Lorient Grand Large. It’s hard to find the time and I would have liked to have a done a lot more training, but sometimes you’ve just got to chase after your dreams!”

    In chasing his own dreams though, Masa Suzuki is also inspiring other Japanese sailors to do the same. “I have done 2 presentations about the Mini Transat in front of young sailors who belong to Tokyo University’s sailing team. For now, their experience extends to keelboats and sailing J24s so I introduced them to my offshore racing and tried to pass on my enthusiasm. I hope they keep sailing once they graduate. They seemed interested in my story, which was lovely to see, so I’ll continue making speeches in front of young sailors. I have been so impressed by the help and the kindness shown to me within the Mini Class. Equally striking is the fact that no matter what your result, everyone celebrates all the finishes, at whatever time of the day or night. I’ve never witnessed that before. In fact, I feel so welcome here that I’m considering living in France, if my wife will agree!”

    Compatriot and Vendée Globe skipper Kojiro Shiraishi believes there is a bright future for Japanese skippers wishing to build competitive offshore racing campaigns. “There are already two Asian youngsters working with me on my campaign and I also know another Japanese sailor whose participating in the Mini-Transat - Masa Suzuki - so things are heading in the right direction.”

    ---------------
    https://www.minitransat.fr/actualite...arins-lepreuve


    Ranking on Thursday 10 October at 12:00 UTC

    PROTOTYPE

    1- François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) 437 miles from the finish
    2- Axel Tréhin (945 – Project Rescue Ocean) 37.4 miles behind the leader
    3- Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Cerfrance) 45.8 miles behind the leader


    PRODUCTION

    1- Ambrogio Beccaria (943 - Geomag) 485 miles from the finish​​​​​​​
    2- Julien Letissier (869 – Reno Style) 7.7 miles behind the leader
    3- Félix De Navacelle (916 – Youkounkoun) 17.4 miles behind the leader​​​​​​​

    ​​​
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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