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Thread: Technical Issues And Tradewinds

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    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    Technical Issues And Tradewinds


    Everyone in the trade winds… or almost. Bouroullec in turmoil with technical issues.

    The trio of Jambou, Beccaria, Ferré is continuing its route leaving very little room for tactical error, the whole performance posted at a furious pace (an average of around 10 knots over the past 24 hours). In a favourable trade wind (ENE’ly of 15-20 knots), that is not very stable in terms of position, the slightest error can cost dearly. As such, it’s vital to anticipate the wind shifts as best they can so as to choose the right moment to gybe, which is what the three leaders in this 22nd edition are excelling at. Indeed, it’s easy to imagine that ‘concentration’ and ‘rigour’ are the keywords on board right now…

    Tanguy Bouroullec

    Prototypes: Bouroullec a victim of technical issues, Kremer a model of efficiency, Gendron gambling it all on the south

    In light of the very different headings within the prototype fleet, even for those boats that are fairly close to one another, we can fairly easily deduce that the wind is rather unstable in strength and direction on the race zone. On the provisional podium, the speed of Tanguy Bouroullec in relation to his direct rivals (just 6 knots over the last 24 hours) and a less than aggressive trajectory, left little doubt that he has some issues aboard after sailing a great race thus far. Via a support boat, Race Management has been informed that his stay chainplate has partially collapsed and the bowsprit ball joint is out of action. The skipper is well and is calmly goose winging his way along until he can work out a fix. For his part, David Kremer (260 – Bon Pied Bon Œil) is proving to be a model of efficiency since his false start in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Indeed, after returning to port for 90 minutes to resolve an issue with his autopilot, he has climbed back up to 14th place in just 2 gybes… neat! Meantime, Marie Gendron (930 – Cassiopée-SNCF) is gambling everything on a very southerly option in a bid to get back into the match after her pit stop to repair a keel fairing and spinnaker pole.

    Production boats: Storm Amélie is continuing to wreak havoc

    Storm Amelie is continuing to cause havoc within the production fleet. Indeed, she too left Las Palmas de Gran Canaria astern of the vast majority of the fleet after returning to port for two hours to replace her stay fitting. However, Amélie Grassi (944 – Action Enfance) has gradually been picking off the fleet, one place at a time, and is now lying in 23rd position out of 61 after a little less than five days of racing… In the top group, Félix De Navacelle (916 – Youkounkoun) and Lauris Noslier (893 – Avoriaz 1800) have repositioned themselves in line with the leaders after a well-played S’ly option. The battle for the third step of the podium is likely to rage right to the wire. As was the case during the first leg, the 2 Ofcets skippered by Anne Beaugé (890 – Ellesaimentlamer) and Adrien Bernard (896 – Mini Yak) are stuck to each other like glue. Finally, at the tail end of the fleet, the wind looks to have more NE’ly in it, enabling a virtually direct course on starboard for the back runners.

    Félix De Navacelle

    At the sharp end of a dark and stormy…

    Further North, a rainy and stormy zone with no wind has been travelling westwards smack bang along the great circle route (shortest route) for some days, blocking the direct route to the West Indies and forcing the Minis to pass to the South of it. A group of around fifteen sailors, led by the skipper who was 3rd in the production fleet in leg 1, Matthieu Vincent (947 – L’occitane En Provence), had been focusing on a N’ly option but have ended up being bogged right down in it. They can but hope that the fines aren’t too heavy and the trade winds return to the zone within a couple of days.

    Marie Gendron

    Accessing the Mini-Transat from… the UK

    The only British sailor in this Mini-Transat La Boulangère 2019, Joe Lacey (Earlybird Racing 963) is currently lying in 15th position in the production fleet and has had a particularly epic journey to make the start of this year’s race. Thankfully, he has a very understanding family, his wife agreeing to up sticks and move to Brittany to enable Joe to get in the necessary training. Together they have started a whole new life in France, which extends to their two young daughters being schooled there. Now that’s commitment! Unfortunately, Joe suffered energy issues whilst still in the Bay of Biscay and really had to dig deep to even make the finish of leg one after two fairly lengthy pit stops, so he’s really got something to prove in this second leg, which is evidenced by a trajectory that shows he’s very much sailing his own race… We get the low-down on the dock prior to the race start.

    Amélie Grassi

    “Moving to France was a way to get more into offshore sailing generally and certainly with the idea of doing the Mini Transat, but we also moved when we had our first child and we intend to stay in France afterwards as well. We now have two children and they’re being brought up to be bilingual by going to French school. They’re 3 and 5 and we talk to them in English, though they kind of prefer to speak French like all their friends. Getting into the Mini Transat is a juggling act, trying to work to raise a bit of money, whilst spending time with family too. We live near Carnac and the boat’s based about half an hour away in Lorient. They have a training group there, which is great and something they don’t really have in England. There are about 25 of us in the training group and they’re split in two so you can either sign up to train at weekends or during the week. I train during the week and juggle life around that. There are normally at least 10 boats training whenever I do it and so that’s much more than you’d ever get back in England. I went to university in Southampton and they just didn’t have the same networking. The level of youth sailing in France is just incredible by comparison. There are ways of getting into the Mini Transat in England but you’re not going to get up to the required level quickly because there are guys here in France that have done nothing but train for this race and they’ve been on the circuit for at least 2 years and in a lot of cases 4 or even 6 years, so you’re not going to beat them. If you want to win, and you’ve just got one shot, you live in France and you find a way of financing your sailing on a full-time basis or find a sponsor and do nothing but that. Officially you can do the race without all that stuff, but realistically it’s unlikely you’ll win unless you’re able to put in that level of training. A lot of people outside France really only know about the Mini Transat, but there’s actually a whole circuit of races throughout the year to help you get in the necessary training too. There are lots of French Mini sailors who do all the other races but not the Transat and that’s definitely something that appeals to me. Personally, I can’t do this race every 2 years as it would be a bit hard on the family and, financially, aside from a couple of sailors, there’s not a lot of sponsorship available in this game so everyone’s subsidizing their campaigns themselves to a certain extent. As such, this is kind of a one shot for me really.”

    David Kremer

    Sailing a Raison design Maxi 6.50, it’s been a bit of work up for Joe to get her match-fit. “A few months ago we were having various issues which were affecting how we were sailing the boats. In the Mini Fastnet, I think, and I may be wrong, there were 10 of us that started, and only 2 that finished and basically we’d all either broken our bowsprits or our rudders. The rudders and bowsprits have since been reinforced and changed so those problems should be fixed, but I’ve only had one race since then which I know I made mistakes in so it’s a little bit of an unknown really. I know that I’m only sailing the boat at 95% of its potential. I think the guys with the Pogo 3s are very close to a 100% and we’re kind of going at a similar speed so I think, with 2 years more development, the boat will probably get there. The question is, whether it’s too soon this year, given that we’ve only just managed to have rudders that don’t break, which is quite an important point! Maybe it’s all just coming too soon, or the other way of looking at it is that we haven’t put enough effort into preparing quick enough. If you had a full-time skipper and a full-time shore team to help you with all the preparations then it would be possible to get there. As mine is a production boat, we have to stay the same as the other Maxi-Minis. As such, when we saw that the rudders were breaking, we weren’t allowed to repair them ourselves, we had to wait for the manufacturer of the boat to repair all the boats. With all those kinds of delays it’s difficult, but the boat can go quick enough so there’s no reason why not. I’d love to stay involved in the class after this race as I just love it, but realistically I do have to get a job at some point too!” he laughs.

    Lauris Noslier

    So what’s it like being the only Briton in this race? “I share the idea that the Mini Transat feels like a big family. I’m relatively new to the class, because the boat was only launched a year ago, and they’ve been completely welcoming and even people who would be your natural competitors give you a helping hand. Virtually nobody’s got the budget to pay for people to come and do maintenance so effectively people are almost forced to be friendly to each other, which obviously has nice side effects as well!” he smiles. “There are a lot of jobs you have to do on a boat that you can’t do with just one person, so you need to get on well with people and help each other out.” It has to be said that the sense of camaraderie when you’re walking the dock at the start of a Mini race is second to none as is the warmth and the welcome given to anyone who shows an interest in the sailors’ respective campaigns. “It’s a shame we can’t get more UK guys involved, because I’ve done a lot of sailing with the RORC but it has a size limit so there is effectively no UK circuit. I think the only way to have that is to start with RORC and without that it’s never really going to take off. Meantime, in France, the level is really professionalising, of course.”

    For UK Mini sailors who cannot commit to moving their families and lives to France, is the solution a sea change in the way RORC and similar organisations currently operate? On its very popular, exciting and highly competitive circuit, the RORC currently has a size limit of 9.2m (about 30ft) on boats racing its many events, the thinking of some of its decision-makers being that Mini 6.50s are not safe for racing in the English Channel… It should be said at this point that the singlehanded Mini-Transat race has of course been crossing the Atlantic every 2 years since 1977 and it would certainly be great to see even more skippers from overseas on the start line of this fantastic event in 2021. Food for thought perhaps…


    Ranking on Thursday 7 November at 16:00 UTC


    1- François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) 1,488.1 miles from the finish
    2- Axel Tréhin (945 – Project Rescue Ocean) 99.7 miles behind the leader
    3- Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Cerfrance) 146.8 miles behind the leader


    1- Ambrogio Beccaria (943 - Geomag) 1,518.6 miles from the finish
    2- Benjamin Ferré (902 – Imago Incubateur D’aventures 45.2 miles behind the leader
    3- Félix De Navacelle (916 – Youkounkoun) 76.8 miles behind the leader
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  2. #2
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    Reshuffling The Deck

    The leaders at the midway mark, Ferré excels

    Ambrogio Beccaria

    François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) and Ambrogio Beccaria (943 – Geomag), the respective leaders in the Prototype and Production boat category in this 2nd leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère 2019, are at the midway mark in the course between Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Le Marin in Martinique after just five days of racing. At the 16:00 UTC position report, they are respectively 1,314.8 and 1,348.1 nautical miles from Le Marin in Martinique.

    François Jambou

    Though for now, the French and Italian skippers have negotiated the wind shifts in the trades to perfection, this time the head of the fleet will have to deal with a more complicated transition as the zone of rain and storms currently to the North moves westwards and sweeps in on them. In the process, the front runners will likely slow: “They’ll have to be super vigilant so as they don’t get snatched up by this zone and can continue making good their escape via the South. Conditions are likely to be a little more complicated than they have been of late then. Indeed, in a somewhat counterintuitive move, the skippers will have to separate themselves from the the route and the wind angle”, explains Tanguy Leglatin, coach to a number of the Mini skippers at the Lorient Grand Large training cluster. This should really reshuffle the cards for this second leg! Verdict in the coming hours…

    Benjamin Ferré excels

    Benjamin Ferré

    It is certainly surprising to see the top 2 production boats making headway just astern of the leader in the prototype category, but there’s another surprise in this story: Benjamin Ferré (902 – Imago Incubateur D’aventures), currently 2nd in the production boat fleet, who has been enjoying a fantastic 2nd leg since the start. “In every Mini-Transat, there are some surprises in store in the second leg, with certain sailors really excelling offshore and feeling more at ease than they thought they would”, explains the coach at Lorient Grand Large, whose been training Benjamin up. “He’s really managing to put what he’s learnt in his preparation into practice in terms of the weather analysis, his performance and also looking after himself”. Though he’s sailing a boat which managed to cream along during the previous edition, this Breton primarily signed up for the adventure… an adventure that might well end on a much sweeter note than he’d imagined.

    Seeking liberation!

    Matthieu Vincent

    Though certain sailors are reaping the rewards of their options, others are champing at the bit, as is doubtless the case for Matthieu Vincent who’s been attempting a N’ly option. The sailor ranked third in the first leg in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and great things were expected of him in this second leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère. Fortunately, Matthieu (947 – L’Occitane En Provence) and the chasing pack to the North are now done with being entangled in the treacly conditions caused by a zone of rain and storms looming over the great circle route. Though this group to the North has got some breeze back and with it some more suitable points of sail, it laments quite a deficit for now.

    The current stand-out performers…

    Cédric Ohanessian

    Cédric Ohanessian (901 – Entreprendre Pour La Planète) has made a dazzling comeback over recent days, moving up from 52nd to 19th place in the production fleet, all on a single 630-mile tack… Sébastien Liagre (589 – Walaby) hasn’t been dawdling either and today’s he’s lying in 18th place after a stellar S’ly option and just one gybe since the start aboard an old Pogo 2…! Finally, Kévin Bloch (697 – Ensta Bretagne) is also sailing an excellent second leg in 17th place on the first of the older generation production Minis.

    Sébastien Liagre

    Kévin Bloch

    Messages from the sea

    The support boat Yamanja had some news to report earlier about Frédéric Bach (533 – Kirikou): “Fred has lost his titanium spoon causing him major grief with regards eating! He’s had to come up with a replacement tool using a cut-off toothbrush handle and the lens from a spare pair of sunnies. He’s in the process of registering a patent so I’m not sure you’ll be allowed to publish this information!”

    Yamanja also gives us the low-down on Jean-René Guilloux (915 – Crédit Agricole 35): “Jean-René has had a recurring problem since the start. He’s having to regularly tighten the screws on his rudder bearing. He’s already had to have another crack at it over the past 48 hours, but he’s envisaging another ‘return to the tunnel’ for another go. As such, we’ve launched onto a parallel course until he manages to successfully complete his repairs”.

    Meantime, Gloanec has been in VHF contact with Adrien Bernard (896 – Mini Yak) who’s having a few technical issues: “All’s well aboard. He got into a pickle on the first night and has since had no navigation lights. The emergency lights are also out of action and his baby stay has broken.”

    Finally, Aloha gives us a picture postcard of the sea state and the skies on zone: “We hit our first small squalls last night, nothing too nasty yet but the skies have clouded over. The sea is still a bit rough with a few white horses under the squalls. The average wind is between 15 and 19 knots.”

    Accessing the Mini-Transat from… Belgium

    The Mini-Transat La Boulangère 2019 is very happy to boast not one, not two, but three Belgian entries this year, two men, Thibault Raymakers (891- Bel Phenomenal) currently in 33rd position, Albert Lagneaux (882 – Plumeke) in 39th place and Marie-Amélie Lenaerts (833 – Team BFR Maree Haute Bleue) in the 42nd spot, all of them quite tightly bunched on a N’ly option along the great circle route in the production boat category. We chat to Albert before the race start.

    Albert Lagneaux

    Albert Lagneaux is arguably the most international skipper to compete in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère 2019. Indeed, he is a veritable melting pot of nationalities and though he is racing under the Belgian flag for this race, he actually has a dual French-Belgian nationality but was born and grew up in Spain to an Italo-French mother and a Belgian father, married a German and is completely fluent in French and Spanish! However, he has been living in Brussels for the past 30 years so let’s call him Belgian!

    Albert found himself on the start line of his first Mini 6.50 race by pure accident. “I’d done a fair bit of sailing by the time I pulled into the port of Douarnenez in June 2014 where a double-handed race was being run: the Mini Fastnet. A Spanish sailor found himself without his co-skipper at the last minute so I offered my services to the Mini Class who then put us in contact. I knew absolutely nothing about the skipper and had never set foot on a Mini 6.50!” laughs the sailor. “It was crazy and quite the adventure. By the time we crossed the finish line I had made up my mind: I was going to sell my yacht and buy a Mini.”

    So how easy is it to train for the Mini in Belgium? “It’s very difficult! In practical terms I’ve done very little training due to lack of time. I’m really here in a very amateurish fashion and where other sailors have taken 1 or 2 years to make the start line, I’ve taken 5 years! I took possession of my boat in May 2015 and I’ve been slowly progressing step by step since then. I initially signed up for the training cluster in La Rochelle but never found the time to come along and practise. The boat’s been in Lorient for several years and though there’s a very good training hub there, it was essentially for the excellent infrastructure that I opted for that venue, though I went to the odd training session when I could. The main bulk of my training has been delivery trips and the race qualifiers and I’ve also done all the races on the Mini circuit, including the Mini Fastnet several times and 2 Transgascognes. As such I have modest goals. I want to sail a clean race and get to the other side. That said, I am competitive. I run half marathons and if I’ve got someone next to me I try to do better. At the same time I have a job that absorbs a great deal of my time, along with other activities. Indeed, in my working life I’m a specialist so elsewhere I’m a ‘generalist’. Realistically the top 10 places are not for me then – barring accidents for the others!” he jokes.

    So far so good. In the first leg, Albert finished in 52nd position in the production fleet after 11 days, 02 hours, 09 minutes and 49 seconds. “I’m very happy to make the finish! he said on his arrival in the Canaries. I was doubtless much too cautious during the descent of the Portuguese coast and lost 20 places in one night because I didn’t want to break anything. The goal is to make Martinique after all! Together with Marie-Amélie, there were 2 of us Belgians in the middle of the ocean and it was very nice spending 2-3 days alongside one another. I had a ball, the sea was beautiful and I broke virtually nothing."

    The sense of belonging and kinship synonymous with the Mini class is obviously important to the Belgian sailor. “I first experienced the magic of this class in the Mini Fastnet. I love how accessible the class is financially compared to the other larger classes. Equally, it feels like you’re part of a big family in this class. It has an extraordinary spirit. If anyone has an issue, the class rallies together, quite spontaneously, even if you’re Ambrogio (Beccaria) or Tanguy (Bouroullec) hunting down the top spot on the podium, both of whom have offered me advice. It’s really nice. There’s a real sense of solidarity. At sea we’re all competitors, unless someone has a problem in which case you get on the VHF radio and those around you try to help you find a solution. It’s the only class I know where that exists. It’s fabulous!”

    The intensity of racing within the Mini class is something Albert is also familiar with in his working life within the emergency services and he believes it is a real bonus to have a background in crisis management for this race. Doubtless anyone who’s ever completed a Mini Transat would agree! This intensity inevitably leaves a certain void and a sense of nostalgia at the end of a race and the Mini Transat in particular, but evidently the race finish is not the end of the road in this regard, it’s a spirit that remains with you for a lifetime and colours your thinking and the way you interact with others. “I’ve done a lot of sailing with a fellow Belgian and very good friend, Jonas Gerckens, and I think he’s racked up the most miles in the history of the Mini. I believe he’s only finished one Mini Transat but he’s participated in several and has done lots of the races on the circuit including Les Sables – Les Acores 3 or 4 times. Though he’s now racing Class 40s, he’s going to be coaching me on the weather before the start of the Mini because he has a better understanding of it and the right tools. He still has a real passion for the Mini and I get the sense that former Mini sailors like him retain a little something special in their relationships with former and modern-day Mini sailors that never leaves them. It’s a bond for life to be Born in Mini!”


    Ranking on Friday 8 November at 16:00 UTC


    1- François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) 1,314.8 miles from the finish
    2- Axel Tréhin (945 – Project Rescue Ocean) 95.6 miles behind the leader
    3- Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Cerfrance) 154.3 miles behind the leader


    1- Ambrogio Beccaria (943 - Geomag) 1,348.1 miles from the finish
    2- Benjamin Ferré (902 – Imago Incubateur D’aventures 58.0 miles behind the leader
    3- Nicolas D’Estais (905 – Cheminant – Ursuit) 83.1 miles behind the leader
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