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  1. #11
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    Under 1,000 Miles For Leaders




    As the leaders in the 23rd Mini Transat EuroChef fleet have just managed to limbo under the ‘1,000-miles to go’ mark in their race to Saint-Francois, the trade wind is finally making its presence felt out on the racetrack. The latter remains fairly wheezy at less than 20 knots, but it’s beginning to become more uniform from north to south. What this means is that from tomorrow all the 84 competitors still competing in the event will benefit from pretty much the same breeze. Within this context, those who have banked on a southerly option will be able to reap the benefits of their positioning over the next 24 hours. After that, they will have virtually zero advantage in terms of pressure.



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    Though those in the south have clearly had the advantage over recent days in terms of wind strength, things are about to change out on the racecourse. Indeed, the trade wind is slowly but sure re-establishing itself. It still remains a little lazy, generating between 13 and 18 knots depending on the time of the day, it’s gradually becoming more balanced in the corridor where the solo sailors are making headway. Ultimately, or from tomorrow in practical terms, all the skippers, whether they’re located to the south or 500 miles further north, will then benefit from the same wind strength. As such, the differences in speeds should be much more uniform. Needless to say that those who have opted for a more direct trajectory, especially Antoine Bos 825 – Rhino), Victor Eonnet (525 – Fondation Arthristis – Amiens Naturellement), Anne-Gaël Gourdin (626 – Cassini) and Pierre Meilhat 485 – Le Goût de la Vie), will be delighted to be able to power along again at double-figure speeds. In contrast, those who have invested heavily in the south will see their separation become less and less advantageous. For them, the challenge over the next 24 hours will clearly be to claw back as many miles as possible in between times, before they lose their edge.

    Reaping every possible benefit

    Inevitably, this fact has not escaped Pierre Le Roy (1019 – TeamWork), leader in the prototype category for the past two days. The latter is currently sailing with his pedal to the metal and boasting an average speed in excess of 12 knots, whilst the majority of his rivals, with the exception of Fabio Muzzolini (945 – Tartine sans Beurre), are making between 6 and 8 knots. It’s a pretty similar scenario for Hugo Dhallenne (979 – YC Saint Lunaire) in the production boat category. Currently second in the overall ranking after the first leg, he too has put all his chips on the southerly option, particularly so yesterday. He’s now making headway at the same latitude as Lille and he too is making the most of the added bonus has has in terms of breeze right now over his playmates, the closest of whom are 60 miles further north. In this way, mirroring his game plan from the first leg, he is galloping along without really sparing a thought for himself or his steed, in the knowledge that the closer to the Antilles Arc he gets, the stronger the wind will be. Put plainly, those in the fleet who are furthest ahead, will still have a slight edge over the others, and this is set to be the case right the way to the finish. A finish which, according to the latest routing, is shaping up to be Friday 12 November for the first prototypes and overnight on 13 through into 14 November for the leaders in the production boat category.

    Of note elsewhere on the racetrack: the Spanish sailor Marc Claramunt (657 – Abicena) is dealing with an issue with his autopilot ram, but is hanging on in there.

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

    This Sunday – start day in the Transat Jacques Vabre -, the fleet competing in the 23rd Mini Transat EuroChef now boasts a lateral separation of nearly 600 miles. That is a colossal figure, which is also reflected in the gaps between the competitors. To the north, Antoine Bos (825 – Rhino) is sticking to his guns on a shorter, more direct route, around a hundred miles south of the great circle route, whilst at the opposite end of the racecourse, the vast majority of solo sailors, headed by Pierre Le Roy (1019 – TeamWork), are continuing to invest in the south and are currently making headway at the latitude of Guinea-Bissau. The challenge right now: to make a few extra umpteenths of a knot, which could make all the difference further down the racetrack.

    But how low will they go? Such is the question on everyone’s lips, but if we’re to believe the latest routing, the answer may well lay as far as 11° north, a point which Pierre Le Roy should reach before too long. For now, the skipper from Lille, who has been heading the fleet since around 08:00 UTC yesterday morning, is still banking heavily on the south, his goal being to make the most of having more pressure. “With just one or two more knots than his rivals further north, he stands to gain 12 to 15 miles on them per 24-hour stint. That might not seem like a lot, but over 7 days out on the racetrack, there could well be a heavy toll to pay at the finish”, assures Christian Dumard, the race’s weather consultant, whose grib files confirm that there is indeed more breeze further south. So yes, the skipper of TeamWork is having to sail a course which is nearly 450 miles longer than that of the great circle route, but in reality, what you need to focus on is the additional ground he’s covering in relation to his direct rivals. In this instance, it’s only 30 to 40 extra miles and such a deficit can be quickly made up, even with a small speed differential, if we take into consideration the fact that there’s still 1,300 miles to go before the fleet makes landfall in Guadeloupe.

    Trouble ahead for the leaders?

    Some of the skippers appear to have been crunching the numbers with Fabio Muzzolini (945 – Tartine sans Beurre) and Irina Gracheva (800 – Path) mirroring each other’s strategy. The same is true among the production boats for Basile Bourgnon (975 – Edenred), Giammarco Sardi (992 – Antistene) and a little posse led by Loïc Blin (871 – Technique Voile – Les Entrepreneurs du Golfe) and including Anne-Claire Le Berre (1005 – Rendez-Vous Equilibre), Giovanni Mengucci (1000 – Alpha Lyre), Pierre Blanchot (890 – Institut Bergnonié) and Romain Le Gall (987 – Les Optiministes – Tribord), with a certain Hugo Dhallenne (979 – YC Saint Lunaire) clearly keen to be part of the mix after making a dazzling comeback from a rather lacklustre start to the race. Though the latter is currently in 25th position, the sailor is likely to be one of the men to watch over the coming days. It was no great surprise though, he has plenty of pluck and is capable of maintaining some extremely high speeds. Another competitor worth monitoring closely is Tanguy Bouroullec (979 – Tollec PM/Pogo). The current leader in the overall prototype ranking, his performance is by far the steadiest on his southerly option out of the small group of four escapees in the first leg. For now, he’s managing to post similar speeds, but it remains to be seen whether or not this will last. Will his 100 miles of lateral separation be beneficial or not? Place your bets ladies and gentlemen.


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


    This Saturday, after eight days of racing, the leaders in the 23rd Mini Transat EuroChef fleet are at the midway point in this second leg between Santa Cruz de La Palma and Saint-François. Though the remaining 1,350 miles are fortunately shaping up to be somewhat quicker than those now astern of them, the route to the West Indies is not yet the big trade wind highway that so many sailors look forward too. In fact, the latter breeze remains wheezy, even at the latitude of Cape Verde, which means the solo sailors are being prompted to invest even more in the south in the hope of benefiting from more pressure.

    Generally, when one evokes the trade wind, a steady breeze synonymous with the inter-tropical regions, the first image that springs to mind is one of a long gallop under spinnaker, boisterous surfs and the odd wipeout that goes with all that. The snag is that since leaving the Canaries, on 29 October, the breeze has never fully established or is proving to be somewhat sluggish, added to which, a vast area of calm conditions is sprawled across the middle of the Atlantic. Though there are a handful of implacable sailors continuing on their northern trajectory – prisoners of their option now -, including Antoine Bos (825 – Rhino), Anne-Gaël Gourdin (626 – Cassini), Hugo Picard (1014 – SVB Team), Pierre Meilhat (485 – Le Goût de la Vie) and Victor Eonnet (525 – Fondation Arthritis – Amiens Naturellement), all the competitors have now got the message that salvation lies to the south. As a result, all of the competitors are continuing to invest in this direction, considerably extending their courses in the process. This is evidenced by the fact that the bulk of the peloton is today making headway between 300 to 400 miles from the great circle route. Most incredible of all though is the fact that the majority of solo sailors are continuing to drop southwards and at quite a rate too since certain routing shows a way through as far down as 11° north, which is level with the latitude of Guinea-Bissau no less!

    As far as 11° north?

    Rarely, if ever in the event’s history has there been such a scenario as this, even when the Cape Verde archipelago was a compulsory passage point, as was the case in the 2017 edition. “It is somewhat unlikely though that the Mini sailors will actually drop down that far as they obviously don’t have such precise weather data as the kind we boast on land”, reckons Denis Hugues, Race Director. Indeed, given that the sailors themselves only get the rather succinct information sent to them each day via SSB, it would seem rather doubtful that they would gamble on a plan of this scale. In the meantime, it’s blatantly clear that those who are furthest south are also the fastest, as evidenced by Pierre Le Roy’s exemplary course. Around fifty miles lower down the racecourse than his direct rivals, the skipper of TeamWork, who just so happens to be a meteorologist by profession, is the only one in the fleet to be racking up double-figure speed at the latest polling. Thanks to his position, he is able to make the most of a tad more pressure than the others, though he too is having to deal with a very irregular breeze. Indeed, there is between 18 and 24 knots of wind, fluctuating up to 30° in direction. To say things are unsettled then is an understatement and things are unlikely to become any easier on the approach to the Antilles Arc. In fact, the first squalls are already looming…

    https://www.minitransat.fr/en/
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  2. #12
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    Pierre Le Roy Under 200 NM To Finish!




    This Thursday, Pierre Le Roy has less than 250 miles to go to reach Saint-François and complete the 2,700-mile passage that makes up the second leg in this 23rd edition of the Mini Transat EuroChef. Though the skipper from Lille is on a straight-line course for victory, it’s out of the question for him to take his foot off the accelerator, even with a cushion of over 80 miles ahead of his closest rival. Yesterday, we noted that in offshore racing, there are countless examples of the importance of not counting your chickens and in the Mini Transat history books, there are naturally many tales regarding skippers whose hopes and dreams have been shattered just a few boat lengths from the finish. In 2003 for example, the jockeying for position was intense in both the prototype and production boat fleet. Whilst leading the race, Sam Manuard dismasted 80 miles shy of Salvador de Bahia after breaking his lower shroud. For his part, Michel Mirabel, beside himself with fatigue after a merciless battle with Erwan Tymen for first place, ran aground on a rocky bar just five miles from the entrance to All Saints’ Bay, where he got cut-off by the tide, unable to advance.





    TRACKER


    Pebelier and Gracheva worth watching

    However, let’s not be pessimistic. It’s highly likely that, even though he’s remaining vigilant, a smile is beginning to spread across the face of the meteorologist from Lille aboard his Raison design in the colours of TeamWork as, barring damage or a unfortunate twist of fate, he looks set to take the win in both the leg and the overall ranking. According to the latest routing, he’s expected across the finish line between 07:00 and 09:00 hours local time (between 11:00 and 13:00 UTC), with a lead of nearly 10 hours ahead of Fabio Muzzolini, and nearly double that over the third skipper. The latter should be Tanguy Bouroullec, current leader in the provisional ranking. However, we now know that he was recently handicapped by technical woes. Woes, which were supposed to have been resolved yesterday. What these were is unknown but they may potentially have left the door open for two serious contenders, Sébastien Pebelier and Irina Gracheva. The former is directly in his wake, around twenty miles behind. The second is positioned around forty miles further south. For all of them, the final gybe will be vital in lining themselves up for the sprint finish.

    Further squeezing up in the production boats

    Amongst the production boats, denouement is still a way off, but the ETAs are becoming clearer now. The latest update suggests the leaders are expected in this Sunday, from 09:00 local time, or 12 noon UTC. Alberto Riva (993 – EdiliziAcrobatica) and Giammarco Sardi (992 – Antistene) may well be the first to make landfall and fly the flag for Italy in a remake of the last edition, in 2019, with the dazzling victory posted by Ambrogio Beccaria. However, it’s still anyone’s game, especially given the fact that, since yesterday, the leaders have squeezed up together again. This is evidenced this Thursday by the fact that the top five are now grouped within a 20-mile radius, Jean Cruse (910 – Ini Mini Myni Mo) and Hugo Dhallenne (979 – YC Saint Lunaire) having notably made up ground on Loïc Blin (872 – Technique Voile – Les Entrepreneurs du Golfe) and the two transalpine skippers. For them, the last 600 miles are set to be nail-bitingly tense, to the great delight of observers the world over!

    https://www.minitransat.fr/en/news/l...en-guadeloupe/
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  3. #13
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    Le Roy's Dual Leg And Overall Victory Dedicated To His Father




    This Friday 12 November at 13:02 UTC, Pierre Le Roy crossed the finish line in the second leg of the 23rd Mini Transat EuroChef (2,700 miles between Santa Cruz de La Palma and Saint-François in Guadeloupe) with a sizeable lead of around ten hours over his closest rival. Third at the end of act one, just 1h09 shy of the leader Tanguy Bouroullec, the skipper of TeamWork has demonstrated real flair and determination during act two by opting for an extreme trajectory to the south. A strategic choice that was as bold as it was hard-fought, it enabled him to secure a fine leg victory as well as first place in the overall ranking (prior to the jury’s decision). He dedicates his success to his father. We get his reactions on his arrival dockside.

    LINKY









    You’ve pulled off the double, the leg and the event win. Were there moments that you doubted yourself?

    “I was stressed for four days. I was convinced of the merits of my southerly option. I was convinced, and rightly so, that my rivals were to the north of me. I imagined that I was going to line all of them up behind me, but until they repositioned themselves, it was impossible for me to know how dangerous they could be. Right to the wire, I was in fear of Fabio’s (Muzzolini) red spinnaker appearing out of the blue at the last moment, as was the case in the first leg. I didn’t want to see a remake of that. I put in an absolutely crazy amount of effort, right to the last. Even last night, I gave it everything I had. There was no doubt about it!”

    On setting sail from the Canaries, there were three of you virtually tied on points. We knew that this second leg would be decisive…

    “We talked about it a lot in the prototype fleet. It was eagerly awaited. I’m happy because it didn’t come down to a question of speed. The weather was the clincher. I had my plan fixed firmly in my mind. I based my race around that. I trusted in myself. On leaving La Palma, I said to myself that either I would win the race with flair, or I’d take the ‘safe’ option by lining myself up astern of the other three, which would have served no purpose whatsoever.”











    Dropping down to 12° north considerably extended your route. It was a daring choice and one that was very full-on. It surely can’t have been an easy thing to follow through on?

    “I said to myself that I couldn’t possibly sail by playing it safe. I didn’t want to arrive in Guadeloupe in the knowledge that I’d known what I had to do but hadn’t done it. I didn’t know where the others were, but I pushed hard into the south. I really went on the attack. It’s fair to say it wasn’t that easy, physically or psychologically. By positioning myself a very long way down in terms of latitude, I likely got caught up in more sargassum than the others. I spent 48 hours battling with the seaweed. I removed it rather than getting some sleep, cleaning around the rudders at one point and around the keel the next. That’s all I did. I got myself into quite a state… I’d never got to a point with boating where it hurt like that. Never before had it hurt so badly.”

    Upon setting sail from Les Sables d’Olonne you indicated that you hoped this Mini Transat would make you a better sailor. Is that the case?

    “I don’t know, but I’m pleased with what I’ve done. I’m going to talk about something personal. That’s not something I ever do, but this is dear to me. Two years ago, during my first participation in the race (he finished 5th in the production boat category), my dad was at the finish. Last year, I said to him that once he recovered from his illness, we’d go off on the boat together. He passed away the week I got the hull. I thought about him throughout, like never before. This victory is for him. My energy to dig deep came from that place. Everything I put into this was to pay homage to him.”

    That likely makes you feel even more proud of what you’ve achieved here…

    “Either way, this is how I wanted things to play out. By making a solid decision about the weather aspect and never letting up. It hurt, but that’s how I wanted to win. I’m happy with the way I sailed. I love being at sea. It’s all I’ve done for two years and I love it. I really hope to be able to continue sailing further down the track. I’m crazy about offshore racing.”

    That’s clear. So what are your hopes right now?

    “I’d really love to sail a bigger boat with on-board computers so I can refine the routing. What we do on Minis involves traditional methods, though that’s a fantastic way to learn. I’m bringing with desires. The Route du Rhum would be incredible, the Vendée Globe even more so, though there’s a big hurdle to cross first. These are matters I’ll be discussing with my partners. In fact, I’d like to thank them for sticking by me and believing in me. I’ll try to sort all that out next year in a bid to continue sailing. I feel so good at sea!”

    A word about your boat?

    “She’s incredible. David Raison created something quite remarkable. The boat is constantly planing. In 15-16 knots of breeze, she just flies. I’d really like to pay tribute to his architect, as well as to all those who helped assemble her. My thoughts go out to these craftsmen, who have an incredible amount of know-how, and also to Cédric Faron who helped me bring it all together. TeamWork was only launched back in February and I’m so fond of her. We’ve written a wonderful story together”.






    TRACKER

    WEAPONS BEING HONED THROUGHOUT THE FLEET
    Whilst Pierre Le Roy (1019 – TeamWork) has taken the outright win (prior to the jury’s decision) in Saint-François, the fight continues at every stage of the fleet in the 23rd Mini Transat EuroChef. In the prototype category, Fabio Muzzolini (945 – Tartine sans Beurre) will likely be next to complete the 2,700-mile passage in the second leg between Santa Cruz de La Palma and Saint-François this evening (midway through tonight UTC), with the trio made up of Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Tollec MP/Pogo) - Sébastien Pebelier (787 – Décosail) - Irina Gracheva (800 – Path) set to follow in his wake, albeit in no particular order. In the production boat category, the competition is becoming fiercer still, even though Hugo Dhallenne (979 – YC Saint Lunaire), who is continuing to make a blistering comeback and is now heading the top trio, is packing a real punch in his bid for final victory.

    This Friday, though Pierre Le Roy has taken the win in style in this 23rd Mini Transat EuroChef, 83 competitors are still out on the racetrack, all of them vying to bring their A game into play, well aware that the final sprint is underway. Among the prototypes, a great slew of finishers is due across the finish line in quick succession and suffice to say that the outcome is eagerly awaited. Third place is an especially hot potato, set to go all the way to the wire, because although the winner of the first leg, Tanguy Bouroullec, might appear to have it in the bag, Sébastien Pebelier and Irina Gracheva remain on the hunt with a different angle of attack in relation to the island of Guadeloupe. In their wake, François Champion (950 – Porsche Taycan) and Arno Biston (551 – Bahia Express) are also bunched together and won’t give up without a fight. Safe to say then that the runners-up prizes are still very much up for grabs and the suspense is positively unbearable among the production boat fleet.

    Hugo Dhallenne continues his thundering attack

    In this category, rarely in the history of the race have we seen the leaders bunched so tightly together with less than 48 hours from the finish. Indeed, the top five are grouped with a 5-mile radius, the bulk of the peloton hot on their heels. At this stage of play, predictions are simply impossible as evidenced by the fact that the leading group are constantly jockeying for the top spot. Yesterday, Italians Alberto Riva (993 – EdiliziAcrobatica) and Giammarco Sardi (992 – Antistene) were leading the way, whilst today Loïc Blin (871 – Technique Voile – Les Entrepreneurs du Golfe) has snatched back the reins despite a continued fearsome reprisal by Hugo Dhallenne, who’s now up to third place, tickling the foil moustaches of the top duo. Everything hangs in the balance as we wait to see whether he’ll manage to pull a blinder and slip by them to snatch victory, despite mixed results in the first half of the race. As we await the response, one thing for sure is that he looks set to take victory in the overall ranking after his second place in the first race some 1h52 behind the German sailor Melwin Fink (920 – SignForCom) who is over 160 miles off the pace today.

    First place without a leg victory?

    If he could secure the win, he would bag a near-perfect score. Where the reverse is true, together with Gilles Chiorri, he could become one of only two sailors in the history of the Mini Transat to take victory in the event without winning any legs. “It just goes to show that consistency, as is often the case in offshore racing, is one of the keys to performance, just like mental strength”, says the winner of the 1997 edition. An edition whose racetrack stretched from Concarneau in Brittany to Fort-de-France with a stopover in Tenerife, in which he finished 5th and 2nd in the two legs, aboard an ancient prototype, which had won the event in 1981 in the hands of Jacques Peignon. “The main point of interest in my Mini Transat relates to my finish in the Canaries. Whilst heading the fleet, I was unable to locate the finish line. Angry with the Race Committee, who I reckoned were incapable of setting this famous line correctly, I entered the port where Jean-Luc Garnier, the then event organiser convinced me to get back out there and cross it. I set sail with two reefs in the main and three fenders on each side of the boat and finished in 5th place with an 18 or 20-hour lead over Laurent Bourgnon. Laurent took the win in the second leg, but finished behind in the combined time,” recalls Gilles. So yes indeed, anything is possible in this Mini Transat…
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