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  • Photoboy
    Francis Jambou Takes Line Honors In 2019 Mini Transat

    Proto: François Jambou-Navigateur-Course au large
    Arrived Thursday 14 November at 18 pm 00 minutes 07 seconds.
    Time elapsed: 12 days 02 hours 27 minutes 07 seconds from Las Palmas, Canary Islands to le Marin Bay, Martinique.

    Reactions from François Jambou-Navigateur-Course au large, first boat to the sailor!

    "I am very moved and I have trouble realizing. I made a lot of sacrifices that make sense today with this victory. My whole life has been turned around this, to be able to get there. I haven't had a salary in a year and a half because I stopped working. Lately I haven't been very present for my 3 year old son. My companion has been behind me, I thank her because without her I could never have done that. This victory will change my life, there will be a before and after. " "

    "I was in a mode where you shouldn't break the boat, I had my feet on the brake at first, maybe the others wanted to go too fast from the start and broke. I was really in medium speed mode, there were plenty of moments when I could have shot more on the boat but as soon as it hit, as soon as there was a strange noise in the boat I was a little bit, while watching the Ranking. I didn't feel like doing the crazy because it's not in my nature. At The GPS when you see that there are 1 miles left to go, we don't want to do them under fortune rig. We are sailors before being of. " "

    "We had fun conditions, always at the door. I put a spi at the start and I was just there, I DID ONLY 1 thousand close. It was a great navigation. The boat was high all the time. There were beautiful landscapes, of suns, we couldn't dream better. Mentally it was harder, I had a hard time managing the stress of the competition. It's quite an experience, I feel like I've made a lot of progress, to have understood a lot of things and that's rewarding too. I didn't have the claim to be able to win because there were great sailors, great boats and on the first stage I missed a little success at the end. " "

    "You had to get into the game from the start, which was not obvious because we were picked directly with strong wind. I was just behind Marie Gendron when she broke, I saw others leave. It still takes a bit of success because the bullshit hangs on us all: the object we're going to hit, the wind swing that is not announced. A lot of trouble, it can happen to everyone. " "

    " The mini-Transat is the race of my life. I've never dreamed of making the route du rhum or the vendée globe. I came to sail on the late, around 16 years old. For me the mini-Transat was Mr. Everyone's race and I thought I had access to it one day. Winning this race is amazing! " "

    "There is a sailor who impressed me, it's ambrogio. I think he's the best sailor I've ever seen. He's impressive. Getting drunk with standard boats as if they were the best protos, it was a major fact of the race. I completely hallucinated. Necessarily when the wind has a little molli, with my boat more powerful, lighter, I got away, but nevertheless there's a hell of a level in mini and it's good for the class, it's good for sport. " "

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  • Photoboy
    Martinique On The Horizon For Mini Transat Leaders

    Jambou and Beccaria poised to take the win imminently

    The wait in Le Marin (Martinique) for the first competitor to complete the Mini-Transat La Boulangère is about to enter its final day. François Jambou is expected to make landfall tomorrow (from 18:00 UTC). Indeed, barring calamity, he’s set to take the win in the prototype category after a very fast race and a little over 12 days at sea. Axel Tréhin looks set to hold onto his 2nd place, whilst German sailor Morten Bogacki and Erwan Le Méné are duelling for the last remaining podium place in this second leg. In the production boat category, Italian Ambrogio Beccaria continues to reign supreme free of any threat and is due to cross the finish line on Friday (from 16:00 UTC).

    Everything’s in place in Le Marin to welcome the sailors in style as they complete the second leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère, having sailed a remarkable race across the Atlantic, singlehanded on the smallest offshore racing boats in the world.

    The front runners closing on Martinique, the back runners at the midway mark!


    From the front to the back of the fleet, the festivities are sure to continue as each of the skippers make landfall, share their stories from the high seas, savour a job well done and make the most of the bikini climes of the Caribbean and the gathering of Mini soulmates. And though the first skippers are reckoning on an imminent arrival, the back runners still have a long way to go. Indeed, Georges Kick (529) and Jean Lorre (570) are only at the midway mark this evening, progressing slowly… but surely.

    Prototypes: Jambou powering towards victory, Bogacki in fight mode!

    Aboard the reigning champion prototype, François Jambou (865) moved up into the head of the fleet 48 hours after the start in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Since then he has been opening up a seemingly inexorable lead over his main rivals: Axel Tréhin (945), Erwan Le Méné (800) and Tanguy Bouroullec (969). According to the latest routing (to be taken with a pinch of salt as ever of course), François could well cross the finish line from 18:00 UTC, or 14:00 hours in Martinique this Thursday.

    A fifth sailor has also joined the fray now. In fact, after finishing 11th in the first leg, Morten Bogacki (934) is sailing a very fine race in the second leg too. Now less than 500 miles from the finish, Morten is on the provisional podium, neck and neck with Erwan Le Méné. Indeed, the German sailor has really got to grips with his very fine prototype, a boat that compatriot Jörg Riechers secured 2nd place on in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère in 2017. Among the stellar performances of note in this particular fleet are that of Spaniard Pep Costa (431), who’s sailing one of this year’s oldest prototypes, launched back in 2003. In the space of three days, he’s gained six places, moving up from 15th to 9th place and will doubtless be ecstatic to learn he’s inside the Top 10.

    Production boats: Beccaria two days from deliverance, podium impossible to call

    Since the start of the second leg, Ambrogio Beccaria (943) has been leading at every position report, barring one exception (on 3 November at 03:00 UTC)! Suffice to say that the Italian skipper has stamped his mark on this race with impressive authority to relegate some very honed rivals a long way astern. He could well make Le Marin on Friday at around 16:00 UTC to complete the double with a win in both legs. Behind him, the 2nd and 3rd spots are still very much up for grabs and will likely go to the wire. This evening, Benjamin Ferré (902) and Nicolas d’Estais (905) are hanging on in there, but it’s still absolutely all to play for given how tightly bunched they are with 450 miles to go. Either way, as the finishers begin to flood across the line, it’ll be time to get out the calculators and work out the state of play in the overall ranking for this 22nd edition of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère in the production boat fleet.

    Finally, it’s worth noting that Anne Beaugé (890) scaled her mast today and repaired her damaged spreader without assistance so she is now back out on the racetrack. The two sailors who dismasted, Russian Irina Gracheva (579) and Julien Berthélémé (742), are continuing to make headway towards the finish line, the latter skipper’s jury rig proving to be particularly effective. No longer officially racing after requesting assistance, Briton Joe Lacey is also gradually closing on Martinique on a course along the great circle route.


    Ranking on Wednesday 13 November at 16:00 UTC


    1- François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) 205.5 miles from the finish
    2- Axel Tréhin (945 – Project Rescue Ocean) 106.1 miles behind the leader
    3- Morten Bogacki (934 – Otg Lilienthal) 277.4 miles behind the leader


    1- Ambrogio Beccaria (943 - Geomag) 355.6 miles from the finish
    2- Benjamin Ferré (902 – Imago Incubateur D’aventures) 87.3 miles behind the leader
    3- Nicolas D’Estais (905 – Cheminant – Ursuit) 88.2 miles behind the leader

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  • Photoboy
    Under 500 NM For Jambou


    A race is never over till it’s over as the saying goes. However, it’s hard to imagine how the 2 leaders, François Jambou (965) in the prototype category and Ambrogio Beccaria (943) in the production boat category could let victory slip between their fingers now. With 419.3 miles to go for François Jambou and 538.3 for Ambrogio Beccaria, the 2 men are expected to make the marina in Le Marin on Thursday morning.

    So with first place seemingly in the bag in both fleets, in their wake there are an increasing number of candidates for the remaining podium places! Indeed, third place is very much up for grabs in the prototype fleet, with Erwan le Mené (800) and Morten Bogacki (934) embroiled in a thrilling match race. As for the battle for supremacy in the production fleet, 5 competitors are grouped into 40 miles. At the last position report, it was still Benjamin Ferré (902) and Nicolas D’Estais (905) in 2nd and 3rd spot. However, whether it’s Pierre Le Roy (925) who’s attempted a S’ly option, Félix de Navacelle (916) positioned further to the North or Guillaume Quilfen (977) going for an option right down the middle and currently in 6th place, all 3 are still in contention for a great place in Martinique. Verdict in a few days’ time…

    François Jambou is this morning less than 500 miles from the finish in Le Marin in Martinique. As such, the leader in the prototype category now has a glimpse of what looks set to be a victorious finish within the next two days. A little over 100 miles astern, Ambrogio Beccaria is also very well placed to take the win in the production boat category and mirror his victory in the first leg. For now though, the two leaders will have to focus on containing any attacks from their pursuers whilst preserving their gear. Such is the tough balance required in offshore racing… The battle for the remaining podium places is still just as intense and further back the list of damage is mounting. Two competitors, Irina Gracheva and Julien Berthélémé, are sailing under jury rig, whilst many others are having to try to make repairs at sea in order to hang on in there until they make it to the other side.

    Prototypes: the fast track to victory for François Jambou?

    With a lead of nearly 100 miles over Axel Tréhin (945) with less than 500 miles to go, François Jambou (965) looks poised to secure outright victory. Indeed, it’s worth noting that the separation between the two men was just six minutes (in Axel’s favour) at the end of the first leg. Erwan Le Méné (800) looks firmly settled into 3rd place. Will he be able to make up the deficit he amassed in the first leg to move up onto the podium in the overall ranking? Erwan lamented a deficit of five hours in relation to Tanguy Bouroullec (969) on setting sail from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and this morning Tanguy has been relegated to over 50 miles astern of Erwan. The fleet of prototypes stretches nearly 800 miles between François Jambou and Marie Gendron (930), in 20th.

    Production boats: The fleet is split into three large groups

    In the production boat fleet, three large groups have formed. The first comprises leader Ambrogio Beccaria (943) and his closest pursuers. Lined up behind the untouchable Italian, Benjamin Ferré (902) and Nicolas D’Estais (905) are virtually neck and neck, closely followed by Félix de Navacelle (916), positioned slightly to the North. Lauris Noslier (893) is also attacking hard to the South. Given the easing weather conditions announced for the coming days and his slight deficit in relation to this group, Lauris certainly has nothing to lose by giving it a shot. Interestingly, Pierre Le Roy (925), a meteorologist in civilian life, is also hedging his bets on the South. We’ll have to wait and see how the S’ly option pays off.

    The second group comprises those racers ranked from 7th (Guillaume Quilfen) to 15th place (Florian Quenot). Their podium hopes would seem compromised at this stage, but these nine sailors are embroiled in a fine race and are giving their all. Indeed, it’s worth giving a special mention to Amélie Grassi (944) who’s continuing to pick off her fellow competitors and is lying in 14th place this morning. Just astern of this group, we find Kevin Bloch (697) and Violette Dorange (955) who are very much sailing their own races. Out of VHF range from their playmates, their transatlantic race will be a true rite-of-passage.

    The third large group is more substantial, but also more spread out with a significant North/South separation. However, there is little between them in terms of distance to the goal. Indeed there is just 110 miles between 18th placed Benoit Formet (887) and 40th placed Mathieu Gobet (455) this Tuesday. Even in the soft belly of the ranking, the battle is intense between sailors with a whole variety of profiles, which is all part of the charm of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère.

    Irina Gracheva and Julien Berthélémé continue on their way under jury rig, while Anne Beaugé has to scale her mast

    The two competitors whose boats dismasted yesterday have managed, without assistance, to set up jury rigs that should enable them to make Martinique without further incident, though they will have to be patient and sparing of their remaining food. This morning, Irina Gracheva (579) and Julien Berthélémé (742) are 1,100 miles from the finish (08:00 UTC position report).

    Meantime, after breaking a spreader, Anne Beaugé (890) is planning to scale her mast to secure her rig once a support boat arrives alongside to ensure she can perform the operation in safety.


    Ranking on Tuesday 12 November at 16:00 UTC


    1- François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) 419.3 miles from the finish
    2- Axel Tréhin (945 – Project Rescue Ocean) 97.9 miles behind the leader
    3- Erwan Le Méné (800 Rousseau Clôtures) 242.4 miles behind the leader


    1- Ambrogio Beccaria (943 - Geomag) 538.3 miles from the finish
    2- Benjamin Ferré (902 – Imago Incubateur D’aventures) 82.1 miles behind the leader
    3- Nicolas D’Estais (905 – Cheminant-Ursuit) 86.8 miles behind the lead

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  • Photoboy
    Just Over 600 and 700 NM To Finish For Leaders: 2 Dismastings For Mini Transat Fleet



    François Jambou (865) in the prototype category and Ambrogio Beccaria (943) in the production boat fleet are still utterly dominating the competition. Earlier this morning, Russian sailor Irina Gracheva (579) and Julien Berthélémé (742) both announced to Race Management that their boats had dismasted. Otherwise, all is well aboard for both skippers, who are still in the race for now. These two dismastings are the first to occur since the start of this 2019 edition of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère.

    Irina Gracheva

    Julien Berthélémé

    The sailor from the Finistère region in NW France (742) has broken his mast level with the spreader. He’s indicated his intention to continue on his way for now under jury rig. The same is true for the Russian competitor Irina Gracheva (579), who is not requesting assistance and wishes to sort out a jury rig on her own and continue her race. At the 16:00 UTC position report, they were respectively 1197.5 and 1,163.7 miles from Le Marin in Martinique.

    The trade winds are certainly no picnic

    Despite the generally accepted idea that it’s just a long session of slipping along downwind in the sunshine from the Portuguese coast to the West Indies, in race format it’s a very different scenario. Indeed, the sailors have to contend with a shifty wind in terms of strength and direction, short seas accompanied by a big chop and unpredictable winds of 30 to 40 knots that have a tendency to catch the skippers out under the cover of darkness. The upshot of all this is ideal conditions for wipe-outs. To get a better idea of this, you just have to look at the zigzagging trajectories on the cartography and the competitors’ sudden dips in speed. This second leg may not have the nasty conditions you might expect in the Bay of Biscay, but it is no less demanding or backbreaking for the skippers whose piloting skills are really put to the test. In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that once the competitors make landfall in Martinique, conversation will quickly turn to the numerous and epic wipe-outs…

    Growing human and material fatigue

    After more than nine days of singlehanded sailing in the trade winds, the state of human and material wear is beginning to weigh heavy. In addition to the navigation and the race strategy, the sailors are having to double up their efforts in terms of remaining vigilant and cautious as the fatigue, solitude and pressure mount. Perhaps the same cannot be said for Erwan Le Mené (800) in the prototype category or Nicolas D’Estais (905) and Pierre Le Roy (925) in the production boat category however. Indeed, with a very slight edge over their direct rivals in the battle for a spot on the podium, these particular sailors must be glued to the helm, allowing themselves precious little rest.

    The fatigue is also extending to the Mini 6.50s now of course. This is evidenced by the two dismastings suffered by Irina Gracheva (579) and Julien Berthélémé (742) this morning. However, a number of other competitors lament their own technical woes. Anne Beaugé (890) currently has spreader issues. The support boat Yemanja also reports that Thomas D’Estais (819) is in the process of repairing a rudder fitting that has pulled out and Thomas Gaschignard (539) has had to repair his helm and a cracked rudder. Meantime, the support boat Tea, reports that Jean-René Guilloux (915) lost the pin on the rigging screw attached to a stay last night but fortunately he’s managed to replace it with another on the boat. Finally, Race Management received an alert saying "Technical problem, I’m OK" from Simon Tranvouez.

    The latest stand-out performances

    Tired of bringing up the rear of the ranking, Christophe Noguet (744) decided to plunge southwards and this daring option might well pay off enabling him to pick off a few of his rivals before the finish in Martinique. For his part, Sébastien Liagre (589) has sailed nearly 1,200 miles on starboard tack. Finally, on the first of the boats that is neither a Pogo 3 nor a Maxi 650, Kévin Bloch (697) has made a break for glory among the pointy bows to secure 17th place in the production boat fleet this Monday evening.

    Accessing the Mini Transat from… Italy

    It has to be said that there is often a very solid Italian contingent who seem to just love to participate in this Mini-Transat La Boulangère race. This year is no exception with no fewer than seven Italian candidates – two with prototypes and the remaining five on production boats. In the former group we have Luca Rosetti and Matteo Sericano. The former is currently 15th and the latter is sadly now retired after a fantastic performance at the cutting edge of the prototype category prior to breaking his rudder, repairing it and then hitting a UFO that definitively put him out of the race yesterday with a severely damaged keel. Of the Italians in the production fleet, we cannot fail to mention the top boat with a current lead of 85 miles, sailed by Ambrogio Beccaria, who has come achingly close to overtaking the lead prototype at various points along the course and is posting a flawless performance once again. Behind him, compatriot Daniele Nanni is in 25th place, Luigi Dubini in 46th and Marco Buonanni in 58th. We chat to Alessio Campriani in 56th place who is representing the Circolo Velico Centro Italia sailing centre.

    “Many years ago I used to track the progress of the skippers in the Mini Transat as I just find it so inspirational. However, where I live in Perugia, Italy, there were no good organisations to help you train specifically for this race unfortunately as I couldn’t get to Barcelona or the Atlantic coast. As such, all this was but a dream for me 15 years ago, and it seemed too far away for me to access, what with work, life and every other excuse! Then in 2013, I was particularly inspired by one of the youngest skippers to compete in that year’s Mini Transat – my compatriot Michele Zambelli, who has a determination that moves mountains. He was from Rimini, which isn’t so far away from my mother’s seaside home, so I said to myself well, I’m old to do the Mini but I want to try!” he smiles, a twinkle in his eye. He is only 51 after all!

    Following his own Mini Transat campaign, Zambelli opened a training hub in the Adriatic Sea, which has been proving to be a popular way for Italian sailors to come together and train. Campriani jumped at the opportunity to begin his own Mini project at last. Interestingly, there were an impressive 7 Italians competing in the Mini Transat the year of Zambelli’s Mini campaign (2013), one of whom has steadily increased the size of his yacht ever since his fabulous 2nd place in the race. Indeed Giancarlo Pedote is due to complete the Transat Jacques Vabre on a 60-foot non-foiling Imoca tonight European time, in what is an important step forward in his bid to do the Vendee Globe 2020. Leading the Mini-Transat 2019 from beginning to end in the production boat category, it’s exciting to ponder where Ambrogio Beccaria will go from here…

    So how has Alessio Campriani got to the point where he is now able to confidently sail a steady race throughout this 2019 edition of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère? “With Zambelli’s support, I bought myself a Pogo 2 for this project and I’ve essentially been participating in all the races I can that make up the Mini circuit. I’ve been on the circuit a little longer than some, I believe I started in December 2016. Initially it was a big shock to arrive in the Mini circuit. I have a background in sport and I’m a banker and I thought what on earth have I done! But once you get to know people you realise that actually we’re just one big group who share the same passion. Everyone has their own individual goals but if you need something you just have to ask and vice versa so the feeling within the class is great. It’s so beautiful when you race in events like the Fastnet or the Transgascogne, and especially the solo events, that there is always someone to embrace you when you finish. It’s nice to be 1st, 2nd or 3rd but the important thing is that you arrive and you’re fine. In this race, particularly at my age, I’m just racing against myself really. I don’t have a high-powered, modern boat or the energy to go for the win, but the important thing is to be in the competition and to try to sail a beautiful race. I have an anxious character so setting sail on this race is terrible for me in some ways, but the moment you’re making headway on the sea and you can see that you’re going along nicely, then it’s just wonderful to be alone in the boat.”

    For those Italians wanting to train for this race in Italy, the key Mini training centres in Italy are the Centro Italiano Vela Altura (CIVA) in Tuscany in the Tyrrhenian Sea, an initiative run by Marco Nannini’s (2nd in the Global Ocean Race for Class40) sports association founded in 2012, the first Italian centre geared towards offshore sailing, and the Tribu del Vento Offshore Sailing School in Rimini on the Adriatic coast. Wherever you train though, Alessio Campriani’s journey to this Mini-Transat La Boulangère 2019 is sure to inspire sailors from all walks of life and any age to just get out on the water and follow their passion…


    Ranking on Monday 11 November at 16:00 UTC

    1- François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) 631.4 miles from the finish
    2- Axel Tréhin (945 – Project Rescue Ocean) 91.9 miles behind the leader
    3- Erwan Le Méné (800 Rousseau Clôtures) 220.1 miles behind the leader

    1- Ambrogio Beccaria (943 - Geomag) 713.5 miles from the finish
    2- Nicolas D’Estais (905 – Cheminant – Ursuit) 84.8 miles behind the leader
    3- Pierre Le Roy (925 – Arthur Loyd) 85.2 miles behind the leader



    Irina Gracheva (579) and Julien Berthélémé (742) have informed Race Directors that they have dismasted. Both sailors are ok. Support vessels are making way towards the 35 year-old Russian and the 43 year-old Finisterian. Both competitors are competing in the Production category in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère 2019. They are respectively 27th and 45th and are 1171,2nm and 1244,3nm from Le Marin in Martinique. More information to come in the next hours...


    After a little over eight days of racing, the fastest of the fleet have already completed two thirds of the 2,700 miles between Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Le Marin in Martinique. According to the latest routing from Race Management, François Jambou and Ambrogio Beccaria, leaders of the prototype and production fleets respectively, might well make the finish this Thursday. Meantime, Briton Joe Lacey has had to receive assistance from a support boat so he is officially out of the race but is valiantly continuing on to the finish. Italian Matteo Sericano reported his retirement this evening, following a collision with a floating object, which has seriously damaged the keel of his prototype. As a result, 80 sailors are still officially racing despite some far from simple conditions in this 22nd edition of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère.

    Tropical airs
    Being the first to make Martinique and savour victory (and rum) and being there to welcome in all the rest of the fleet might well be something that François Jambou (865) and Ambrogio Beccaria (943) are starting to mull over now. However, they are both experienced enough to know that concentration is still key with a third of the course to go and their pursuers waiting in ambush in case either of them slips up.

    Hotly-contested podiums
    In the prototype category, Axel Tréhin (945) has been relegated to 100 miles astern of the leader. Meantime, Erwan Le Méné (800) and Tanguy Bouroullec (969) are neck and neck, slugging it out for 3rd place. With a little N’ly separation, German sailor Morten Bogacki (934) remains very much in the match to play catch-up too. In the production fleet, a spot on the podium is particularly highly prized. At the 16:00 UTC position report, Nicolas D’Estais (905), Benjamin Ferré (902), Pierre Le Roy (925) and Félix de Navacelle (916) were grouped within ten miles or so of one another, on the hunt.

    Squally weather
    Respectively some 867 to 932 miles from the finish at the 16:00 UTC position report this Sunday, François Jambou and Ambrogio Beccaria have eked out fairly substantial leads. However, prudence is a prerequisite as the men and the gear are tired and conditions are not easy with heavy seas. Moreover, their passage is littered with numerous squalls bringing significant rain and above all winds that could reach 35 to 40 knots. As such, wipe-outs can occur at any moment and this squally weather is set to last for at least three days.

    Briton Joe Lacey continues his race albeit it unofficially
    Yesterday, a support boat sailed alongside Joe Lacey (963) and ultimately a member of the crew climbed aboard the Mini 6.50 to assist him with repairing his tiller pivot. The issue was eventually resolved and the sailor has since been able to continue on his way. However, given that he received outside assistance, Joe Lacey is no longer officially racing, which is sure to be a bitter disappointment to the Briton who has given his absolute all throughout this race.

    Italian Matteo Sericano forced to retire
    Matteo Sericano has also suffered a major setback tonight. Having set sail from Mindelo yesterday after repairing his rudder, the Italian quickly turned back, this time as a result of hitting a floating object which has severely damaged his keel. Matteo has attempted in vain to repair it but has since had to announce this retirement this evening.

    Tracker problem resolved for Julien Letissier
    This morning, Julien Letissier (869) was no longer being located on the cartography for the Mini-Transat La Boulangère. His beacon had failed and at today’s link up Race Management asked him to switch tracker. The message has clearly got through via the support boats since Julien has reappeared on the 16:00 UTC cartography and is in 12th place in the production fleet.

    Where are we at with the female sailors?
    Eight women (seven in the production boat fleet and one in the prototypes) took the start of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère and all of them are still racing. In the production category, best placed is Amélie Grassi (944) who’s sailed a blinder after setting sail from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria a good dozen hours or so after the rest of the fleet in 61st position. This evening, Amélie is in the Top 15! Hot on her heels is the youngest sailor in the race, Violette Dorange (955), who seems to be into a good rhythm after a first leg marred by energy woes aboard her boat. On her Ofcet 6.50, Anne Beaugé (890) is also enjoying a great race (20th place at the latest poll). She’s one of the best placed among those skippers not sailing Pogo 3s or Maxis.

    Relatively deserted on the race zone, albeit in the top part of the fleet, Russian Irina Gracheva (579) is carving out a fine course aboard her trusty Mini launched nearly 15 years ago. And even though there is still a long way to go, Axelle Pillain (781) and Céline Sallès (514) also look to be on track to pull off their gamble of crossing the Atlantic Ocean on a Mini. Tonight they’re at the midway mark in 40th and 48th places. Meantime, Belgian sailor Marie-Amélie Lénaerts (833) is demonstrating great determination with regards to sorting out her technical woes at sea. Making slow progress throughout yesterday, she’s back up to speed today and continuing on her way. Just one woman is competing in the prototype category, Marie Gendron (930). Hurriedly returning to Las Palmas due to keel issues and a problem with her bowsprit, Marie has since been courageously hurtling along on a S’ly option in a bid to try and catch up with the rest of the fleet.


    Ranking on Sunday 10 November at 16:00 UTC


    1- François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) 867.9 miles from the finish
    2- Axel Tréhin (945 – Project Rescue Ocean) 100.9 miles behind the leader
    3- Erwan Le Méné (800) Rousseau Clôtures Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Cerfrance) 212.4 miles behind the leader


    1- Ambrogio Beccaria (943 - Geomag) 932.7 miles from the finish
    2- Nicolas D’Estais (905 – Cheminant – Ursuit) 72.2 miles behind the leader
    3- Benjamin Ferré (902 – Imago Incubateur D’aventures 73.9 miles behind the leader


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  • Photoboy
    1/3rd Of Way Completed In 4 Days



    Italians Matteo Sericano and Marco Buonanni have both broken a rudder and are making for Mindelo, in Cape Verde, where they’ll make a pit stop to effect repairs before, hopefully, returning to the racetrack. Since the start in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, three other competitors have made pit stops before setting sail again: Amélie Grassi, Marie Gendron and Jean Lorre. The remaining 77 sailors competing in the second leg of this Mini-Transat La Boulangère have surely had their share of hassles too, but have seemingly been able to deal with them offshore. To support one another in the great adventure that is the Mini-Transat, some sailors are making for Martinique in groups. Naturally, this is not the case for the front runners, who are focused on leaving their playmates as far behind them as is humanly possible. This evening, François Jambou (prototype) and Ambrogio Beccaria (production boat) are stretching out their respective leads.

    Technical pit stops for Matteo Sericano and Marco Buonanni

    The trajectories adopted by Matteo Sericano (888) and Marco Buonanni (769) on the cartography for the Mini-Transat La Boulangère suggested that the two Italian sailors have a few issues. Fortunately, they quickly got a message to Race Management saying: “technical problem, I'm OK”. Two support boats headed in their direction to find out more and learnt that each of them has broken a rudder. Unable to effect repairs at sea, they’re diverting to Mindelo, in the Cape Verde islands, to get their Minis back up and running. At 16:00 UTC, Matteo was about 200 miles from this port, and Marco around 350 miles away.

    Sailing in squadron formation

    It’s interesting to note that a number of the mid-fleet sailors are taking on the long passage across the Atlantic in contact with fellow sailors. In this way, they’re able to chat over the VHF and doubtless dispense and receive reassurance. Eight sailors are particularly bunched together on a N’ly course: Mathieu Gobet (455), Jean Bachèlerie (428), Thomas Gaschignard (539), Thomas D’Estais (819), Thibault Blanchet (774), Simon Tranvouez (807), Pierre Casenave-Péré (857) and Matthieu Perrault (825). Further South is another group made up of Jean-René Guilloux (915), Thibault Raymakers (891), Olivier Le Fichous (721), Axelle Pillain (781), Albert Lagneaux (882), Christophe Brière (755) and Raphaël Lutard (900). “This situation where sailors make headway as a group is a frequent occurrence mid-fleet in the Mini-Transat. However, the practice is less evident up front”, explains Denis Hugues, Race Director.

    Prototypes: François on the last lap?

    François Jambou (865) is letting his prototype go into overdrive, constantly racking up high speeds as a result. His rivals have their work cut out trying to keep up with the hellish pace he’s setting. Indeed, it’s worth noting how second placed Tanguy Bouroullec (969) has slowed today. Does Tanguy have techical issues? In any case, third placed Axel Tréhin is making the most of the opportunity to swoop in on his prey. After a complicated and backbreaking first leg due to energy woes, Antoine Perrin (850) is sailing a blinder in this leg and is lying in 5th position this evening, in contact with the experienced Erwan Le Méné (800).

    Production boats: Big separation in terms of options

    The three competitors who secured a podium spot in the first leg are opting for very different courses in the second. Matthieu Vincent (947) is the furthest North of the fleet and Félix de Navacelle (916) is the furthest South. Between these two sailors, the lateral separation has stretched to 450 miles this evening! As for the leader Ambrogio Beccaria (943), he’s gone for a passage through the middle where he’s really excelling himself. Astern, those who were favouring a S’ly course at the start of the race have repositioned themselves behind him, as is the case for Florian Quenot and Nicolas D’Estais, who have been the fastest sailors in the production fleet over 24 hours, respectively posting distances of 291.47 and 290.03 miles over a day.

    Accessing the Mini-Transat from… Russia

    The Mini-Transat La Boulangère 2019 is very happy to boast not one but two Russian entries this year, one man Fedor Druzhinin (prototype 759 – Assist) currently in 19th place in his category this Wednesday on a N’ly option, and the first ever Russian woman to compete in the race, Irina Gracheva (production boat 579 – Irina Gracheva Racing) – currently 47th on a S’ly option. Both sailors are nearly a third of the way across the Atlantic and prior to the start the two compatriots gave us the low-down on their respective journeys to the start line of this epic race.

    “Racing in the Mini class is all about constantly overcoming obstacles. From preparing for a race, to training to actually getting out on the racetrack, it feels like you’re climbing a mountain and at times the summit seems to be getting further and further away. The effort involved is constant, whether you’re hunting for sponsors, repairing gear or trying to get time out on the water. Everything is tough-going, nothing is simple. There are no easy solutions in this game and no ready-made answers, and as everyone with a boat knows, they are money pits!” says Druzhinin smiling. However, this race has been something he’s dreamt of doing for the past 20 years.
    So what’s the big attraction of a Mini campaign? “Sailing is my life and my job – I’m a sailing instructor and I’ve crossed the Atlantic 5 times. I’ve covered over 100,000 sea miles in the past 10 years or so, 20,000 of which have been singlehanded. If you want to raise your game, improve your boat handling skills and your physical and mental agility, this Mini Transat is the best there is on the offshore racing circuit and it requires you to be mentally and physically strong. Last year, in Les Sables d’Olonne – Azores - Les Sables d’Olonne race, there were a lot of retirements and I really had to push myself to the limit to continue racing after falling badly and cracking my rib. Crawling around a 6.50m boat in huge waves trying to repair a headsail is no picnic I can tell you, but it certainly gives you a psychological advantage once you know you can overcome such hurdles!” he enthuses.

    “I still live in Russia which made it very complicated to prepare my Mini-Transat project. I’ve had to spend an awful lot of time travelling on planes and trains, whilst keeping my company ticking along. Before this race, I had to sacrifice precious time with my family to move to Lorient in Brittany for training and to gain experience competing in the pre-season races and that’s really tough.” One of his main goals in this race is to try to get the best out of his boat in a strong breeze and with sustained trade winds forecast right the way to the finish, he’ll certainly be an even better sailor by the time he gets to Martinique.
    Compatriot Irina Gracheva also boasts a wealth of sailing experience, predominantly spanning Baltic waters, though it also stretches to an expedition to Cape Horn in 2015 as well as a double-handed transatlantic passage. The Mini-Transat seemed like the obvious choice once she’d set her heart on singlehanded sailing. “Accessing the Mini-Transat is no mean feat for anyone, but when you come from the other side of Europe or further afield, it’s very daunting. I too still live in Russia, but to prepare and qualify for the Mini-Transat the only solution, for now at least, was for me to move to France, La Rochelle in my case, which I did for six months. On top of preparing for the race, I had to get used to living in France with all their new customs and habits that are a far cry from those in my home country, but I’m very proud to be the first Russian woman to attempt this race.”

    Wherever in the world you’re from, the common denominator in any Mini-Transat campaign is a deep-seated passion for sailing. Once you have that, it would seem that anything is possible. “My love for the sea and sailing developed from the age of twelve, when I began sailing competitively in Saint Petersburg and gradually began to devote all my time to this new passion. Singlehanded sailing appeals to me because aside from the romanticism of it, you grow as a person every time you overcome what might seem like an impossible hurdle and I love the physicality of working with your hands and also using your intellect to find solutions and fixes. Discovering what you’re capable of on your own is just amazing!”
    Among the main events that colour her history in sailing are the Rolex Fastnet, the Middle Sea Race, the RORC Caribbean 600, a sailing expedition to Cape Horn and a world speed record for a transatlantic passage from Bermuda to Plymouth, paired up with Swedish sailor Mikael Ryking on a Class 40, back in 2017, a year that also saw her secure a national award in Russia as Sailor of the Year. It’ll certainly be intriguing viewing to see how Irina fares in this Mini-Transat 2019 and whether it will serve as a springboard to further oceanic adventures…


    Ranking on Wednesday 6 November at 16:00 UTC

    1- François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) 1,709.6 miles from the finish
    2- Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Cerfrance) 70.4 miles behind the leader
    3- Axel Tréhin (945 – Project Rescue Ocean) 75.3 miles behind the leader

    1- Ambrogio Beccaria (943 - Geomag) 1,724.8 miles from the finish
    2- Benjamin Ferré (902 – Imago Incubateur D’aventures 28.0 miles behind the leader
    3- Pierre Le Roy (925 – Arthur Loyd) 70.0 miles behind the leader

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  • Photoboy
    An epic run towards Martinique!

    After three days at sea, the fleet of 82 sailors in the second leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère is complete once again after Jean Lorre’s return to the racetrack at the start of the afternoon. The speeds are steady, on a trajectory close to the direct route, pushed by a trade wind that should accompany them all the way to the finish. The front runners might well make landfall in Martinique after just 11 days at sea… The eagerly awaited conditions for champagne sailing are upon them and the sailors are relishing their time on the water, albeit with a careful eye on possible broaches. A rare occurrence worth highlighting is the fact that the leader of the production boat category (Ambrogio Beccaria) is hot on the heels of the first prototype (François Jambou).

    The solo sailors competing in the second leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère are sure to have some tales to tell at the finish! “We’ve known since the start that the race could be very quick and that’s being confirmed. Even the support boats are finding it hard to keep up!” explains Denis Hugues, the Race Director. Indeed, this second leg is certainly living up to the competitors’ expectations as it offers up a long 2,700-mile run, making good speed under spinnaker throughout. Florian Quenot (946) made the most of the conditions last night to shatter the record for the greatest distance covered in 24 hours on a production Mini 6.50: 291.47 miles at an average speed of 12.1 knots.

    “It’s pretty gruelling…”

    However, this high speed sailing is both exhilarating and perilous with an abundance of broaches and minor damage. A message received from the support boat Yemanja sets the scene: “There is still a sustained 20-25-knot NE’ly wind, the seas are fairly rough, not heavy but not ordered either. We have fine weather with a few low clouds. Some conversations over the VHF between Minis suggest that things have been pretty gruelling for them. The majority are sailing with two reefs in the main and a medium spinnaker or code 5. There’s a lot of talk about which route to choose…” Talking of the route choices, it’s interesting to note that the competitors furthest North are tending to drop southwards to avoid some stormy zones that are set to develop from tomorrow.

    Production boats: Ambrogio Beccaria imperial, Kevin Bloch leading the ‘vintage’ fleet, Jean Lorre back in the match

    For now, Ambrogio Beccaria (943) is today’s hot topic on his Pogo 3. Not content with stealing a march on his direct rivals, the Italian is also in a face-off with the most honed prototypes. In fact, this evening he is second overall, with only François Jambou ahead of him. The chasing pack is in hot pursuit but Ambrogio is assuming his status as favourite in stellar fashion, knowing full well that it wouldn’t take much to curb his fantastic progress. It’s worth noting that behind the star Pogo 3s and production scows, certain competitors with older boats are enjoying a fantastic race, as is the case for Kevin Bloch (697), well placed in the Top 20 with his boat built in 2007. As for Jean Lorre (570), he’s been back on the racetrack since early afternoon after a pit stop in El Hierro to fix his stay chainplate. There are also some small groups forming to cross the Atlantic in unison with seven competitors bunched into barely 5 miles from Thomas Gaschignard in 23rd place to Pierre Casenave-Péré in 30th!

    Prototypes: François Jambou makes a bit of break

    Aboard the boat that is the current title holder for the event (in the hands of Ian Lipinski), François Jambou (865) is still in control of the fleet of prototypes. Finishing the first leg just six minutes after winner Axel Tréhin (945), François has now gained a considerable edge over his main rival (42.8-mile lead at 16:00 UTC). Tanguy Bouroullec (969), the third figure in this battle for gold, is some 16.9 miles shy of François. The match for outright victory is sure to be prime viewing right to the wire. Astern of the top three are four competitors eager stay in contention: Erwan Le Méné (800) is right in line with the leaders, whilst Antoine Perrin (850), Morten Bogacki (934) and Fabio Muzzolini (716) have favoured some northerly separation.

    Accessing the Mini-Transat from… Greece

    Currently making 10 knots of boat speed, Greek sailor Markos Spyropoulos (931 Quanta) is lying in 15th place in the prototype fleet more than 1,000 miles North of the Cape Verde archipelago. So how did the Greek sailor get to the start line of this Mini-Transat La Boulangère 2019?

    “Basically I’ve been a sailor all my life. I started when I was 10 back in Greece on very small boats and then 420s and then after university I started offshore sailing. I then took on the post of a sailing instructor before officially becoming a skipper in 1994, which I’ve done for the past 25 years. I’ve sailed all over the world. I think I’ve crossed the Atlantic 7 times now and I’ve been around the world once, but all that was on Maxi yachts like 60 to 100 footers. During this time, back in 2004, I was at anchor in the Cape Verde islands when I saw 2 Minis, who had stopped off there with problems and that stuck in my mind and I thought, one day, when I have the time and money, I have to do this race, so here I am! It’s a big journey to make it to the start line because I’m from far away and Greece is a poor country compared to France. I’ve met some very nice sailors within the Mini circuit from both France and overseas and they’re very kind and polite with us foreigners.

    I quit a very, very nice job and a good salary as the captain of a big sailing yacht 2 years ago to start this journey. Of course now I’m completely broke! I have managed to get some minor sponsors but it’s never enough really, but that’s okay when you’re doing something because it’s your passion. It’s a big sacrifice but, in the end, we’ll take back home with us all the happiness we were looking for. The skills involved in managing a Mini project are something that I feel I already have at my age.

    I am the second Greek sailor to have participated in the Mini-Transat, but the first one (back in 1983), quit the race on the first day as he wasn’t well prepared. I hope to be the first Greek sailor to finish the Mini-Transat. My boat is very well prepared and I feel like it’s at the highest level it has been in the 2 years since I bought it. I’ve done some really nice updates. It’s fully carbon and has a really good build quality but we’ll see how things go in this crazy race!

    Minis are fragile upwind, so we have to conserve them for the passage across the Atlantic. If it was just a race of 200 or 500 miles, it would be okay, but we have a long way to go. I have a 12-year-old son and I’ve spent most of the summer away from him. I’ve only had 5 days with him that whole time so I’m going to make up for that once I get to the other side of the big pond!”

    A personal journey of discovery, Markos is also hoping his participation in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère 2019 will encourage the inclusion of offshore racing in the 2028 Olympics as well as bring the sport to Greece.


    Ranking on Tuesday 5 November at 16:00 UTC


    1- François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) 1,966.9 miles from the finish
    2- Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Cerfrance) 16.9 miles behind the leader
    3- Axel Tréhin (945 – Project Rescue Ocean) 42.8 miles behind the leader


    1- Ambrogio Beccaria (943 - Geomag) 1,972.3 miles from the finish
    2- Benjamin Ferré (902 – Imago Incubateur D’aventures 16.8 miles behind the leader
    3- Pierre Le Roy (925 – Arthur Loyd) 46.6 miles behind the leader

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  • Photoboy
    Superb 1st 48 Hours For Mini Transat Fleet


    A little over 48 hours after the start of the second leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria/Le Marin), everyone is positioning their pawns. With little information and few tools at their disposal, the sailors are having to decide which strategy they believe will pay off in the medium and long term: immediately favouring the West or investing in the South. There’s been a high pace since Act 2 kicked off and the fastest competitors have already covered nearly 500 miles along the great circle route (direct course). This evening, the leaders are Ambrogio Beccaria (production boat category) and François Jambou (prototypes).

    Sailing in the trade winds is no bed of roses. The competitors in the Mini-Transat are certainly posting good speeds downwind, but they’re having to deal with a shifty NE’ly wind both in terms of strength and direction (fluctuating a good twenty or so degrees throughout the day), in the knowledge that squalls may well colour play. As a result, the skippers are having to make the most of these shifts and perfect the timing of their gybes.

    Which is best, South or West?
    Two major options are taking shape on the Atlantic chessboard. The bulk of the fleet has chosen to head West. This course is closer to the great circle route, but with it comes the risk of getting caught in zones with lighter winds. Other competitors have focused on making southing, lengthening the distance to sail in a bid to hunt down a steadier trade wind. For them, the medium and long-term challenge hinges on whether the strength of the wind will compensate for the extra ground they must cover. The lateral separation between the competitors is constantly growing and this Monday evening the fleet is split across 350 miles from Briton Joe Lacey (963 Earlybird Racing) in the North to Sébastien Liagre (589 Walaby) in the South.

    Alone or accompanied?
    After a little over two days of racing, certain sailors have already been a little deserted, as is the case for Raphaël Fortes (858), Georges Kick (529) and Sébastien Liagre (589). Already the solitude is absolute for them as they’re not in range of anyone else in the fleet. Meantime, others are making headway within very compact groups, including Thibault Blanchet (774), Thomas D’Estais (819), Thomas Gaschignard (539), Jean Bachèlerie (428) and Pierre Casenave-Péré (857), who are likely sailing within sight of one another. At the 16:00 UTC position report, these four skippers were bunched within just 2 miles of one another.

    Jambou and Beccaria setting the pace
    In the prototype category, François Jambou (865), Tanguy Bouroullec (969) and Axel Tréhin (945) are right where you’d expect them to be, in the podium spot once again. At the 16:00 UTC position report, François held a rather precarious lead given that there is still over 2,200 miles to go. Erwan Le Méné (800) is also lying in ambush, determined to be in the mix to win this second leg to Martinique.

    Event favourite and winner of the first leg, Ambrogio Beccaria is bringing his A game once more. Since the start in Las Palmas he’s been posting rapid speeds and pulling all the right moves. Benjamin Ferré (902), Keni Piperol (956) and Guillaume L’Hostis (868) are doing their utmost to hang on in there, on a similar course to that of the Italian. Their pursuers are scattered to the North, a posse led by Paul Cloarec (951), and a more substantial group to the South, with the notable presence of Félix de Navacelle (916).

    The production scows in the match
    The competitors sailing on the production scow bows are making the most of the conditions that favour their steeds to front the chasing pack. Keni Piperol, Paul Cloarec and Guillaume Quilfen (977) are in the top 10. We also need to keep an eye on the southerly option adopted by Florian Quenot, who has been very quick since the start in Las Palmas. Indeed, he’s covered the greatest distance over the ground (prototype and production boats combined) with 608 miles devoured since the start (16:00 UTC today).

    Marie Gendron hits the racetrack again while Jean Lorre enters the pits in El Hierro
    At 22:30 UTC on Sunday night, Marie Gendron completed the repairs to her spinnaker pole and keel fairing and headed back out to sea, eager to try and make up for lost time. Later this afternoon though, Jean Lorre arrived in El Hierro, the smallest island in the Canaries archipelago, where he’s hoping to resolve an issue with his stay chainplate. Jean will endeavour to make it as quick a pit stop as possible, in the knowledge that he must halt racing for at least 12 hours in line with the regulations that govern this Mini-Transat La Boulangère.


    Ranking on Monday 4 November at 16:00 UTC


    1- François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) 2,203.5 miles from the finish
    2- Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Cerfrance) 5.3 miles behind the leader
    3- Axel Tréhin (945 – Project Rescue Ocean) 17.7 miles behind the leader


    1- Ambrogio Beccaria (943 - Geomag) 2,206.3 miles from the finish
    2- Benjamin Ferré (902 – Imago Incubateur D’aventures 16.4 miles behind the leader
    3- Kéni Piperol (956 – Caraïbe Course Au Large) 34 miles behind the leader

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  • Photoboy
    Canary's In The Rear View: Mini Transat Leg 2 Underway!

    This Saturday 2 November, the start of the second leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère was given at 14:33 UTC in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The fleet is bound for Le Marin, in Martinique. The race set sail in lovely conditions with a trade wind of around fifteen knots, which is due to build as the competitors get clear of the Canary Islands. The weather is forecast to be good, favouring a rapid passage throughout the 2,700 miles leading to Martinique. Axel Tréhin (prototype) and Ambrogio Beccaria (production) are leading the way at the end of the first leg, but there is little separating the chasing pack and this second act may completely reshuffle the cards.

    Reactions from the sailors as they leave the pontoons:

    Ambrogio Beccaria (production boat, winner of the first leg): “I’m a bit stressed as the weather is moving around a lot. It’s not easy to decide whether we need to head South or North. We’ll need to adapt to the situation rather than sticking to a ready-made strategy. However, that’s one thing I know how to do. Once we set sail, things will be a lot better. I think there will continue to be little separating us.”

    Keni Piperol (production boat, 14th in the first leg): “The start of the race is going to be important. We’re going to have to put in some good tacks, position ourselves nicely and avoid having our passage blocked in the wind shadows created by the islands. We’ve been wanting to get back out sailing again for a while now. I’ve already completed the Mini-Transat but every passage is different. The boat isn’t the same and the conditions are different.”

    Pierre Moizan (prototype, 12th in the first leg): “We’ve been preparing for this for a very long time, nearly three years in my case. It’s strange to be here on the big day itself. Yesterday, I felt very stressed but today things are better. After a three-week break, we’re really going to need to get back into the swing of things. A few hours on the boat and we’ll be able to get back into the rhythm. We may come across some friends from the Transat Jacques Vabre, which will be nice.”

    Daniele Nanni (production boat, 55th in the first leg): “I feel happy, the weather is very good and the boat is ready. It’s going to be the perfect transatlantic. It’s the first time that I’ve really crossed the Atlantic singlehanded. It’s exciting and a bit stressful. I still find it a bit hard to grasp the fact that I’m going to take the start of the second leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère.”

    Céline Sallès (production boat, 54th in the first leg): “It’s hard to find the words to describe what’s going on in my head, there’s a big mixture of emotions. So much has happened just to get to this stage, it’s almost a relief to be here. When we unroll the course chart, we realise that we’re pretty small on our little boats. I’m going to try to move up the leader board a few places, but I don’t feel any stress in that regard.”

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  • Charlie Tuna
    Mini madness part two!

    Love it, shame they don't have the comms they the big boys have.

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  • Photoboy
    2nd Leg Of Mini Transat Begins Saturday

    Green light for tomorrow’s start of the second leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère
    “This is what we signed up for!”

    It’s tomorrow, Saturday 2 November at 14:08 UTC that the start of the second leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère will set sail from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria bound for Le Marin (Martinique). Following the withdrawal of Hendrik Witzmann due to injury, there will be 82 women and men setting off on this 2,700-mile passage, with some very fine conditions on the cards involving some established, steady trade winds. Torn between excitement and apprehension, the sailors have but one wish: to get on their way! Among the prototypes and the production boats, the matches remain wide open.

    Hendrik Witzmann withdraws, 82 sailors at the start

    Hendrik Witzmann completed the first leg between La Rochelle and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with a fine 16th place in the production fleet. Unfortunately, this resident of the United Arab Emirates is suffering from a knee injury (torn meniscus) meaning that it would be unreasonable for him to take on the big crossing to Martinique. As such, 82 sailors will be setting sail tomorrow at 14:08 UTC from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 21 in the prototype fleet and 61 in the production boat fleet.

    Gearing up for a quick second leg

    Conditions at the start are forecast to be very good. “The trade wind is getting back into position in the Canaries”, explains Christian Dumard, meteorologist for the Mini-Transat La Boulangère. “For the start, there will be around ten knots of breeze on the coast, then 15 knots as the competitors get further offshore. The first challenge will involve skilfully negotiating their way around the wind shadows created by the islands. There will be some options on the cards. The trade wind will be well established (15 to 25 knots) for the first week, with some good sailing conditions, though it’ll be important to get a handle on the squalls. The first prototypes could well take between 11 and 12 days to make the crossing.”

    “The situation is quite well settled and that’s great for the competitors. I’d really like to set sail in such conditions”, smiles Denis Hugues, Race Director.

    Prototype: “Battle like the devil”

    In the prototype category, the race for victory remains wide open and the top three are effectively starting over from scratch. Axel Tréhin, winner of the first leg, has a lead of just 6 minutes over François Jambou and 56 minutes over Tanguy Bouroullec. The latter copped a penalty of 30 minutes for losing an onboard water bottle. “When you see how little there is separating us, it’s like we’re on level pegging”, explains Axel. “The match remains wide open. We’re going to have to battle like the devil”, Tanguy agrees. As for François, he points out that other competitors may well join the mix in the battle for the podium, starting with Marie Gendron (4th), Fabio Muzzolini (5th) and Erwan Le Méné (6th).

    Production boats: “The equivalent of a hundredth of a second in a 100m sprint”

    In the production boat category, Ambrogio Beccaria has a lead of 1hr43 over Félix de Navacelle and 2hr40 over Matthieu Vincent. “If we were to draw a comparison with another sport, this would correspond with a hundredth of a second in a 100m sprint”, explains Ambrogio. “We’re soon going to be putting pedal to the metal and each of us will sail our own race. Trying to defend a lead of around 1hr40 would be senseless. Everyone will have problems to deal with and you can very quickly lose an hour.” Matthieu Vincent points out that a number of parameters will come into play: “Among the front runners, we all have the same boats (Pogo 3) and virtually the same speeds. The race will be decided on the trajectories, on who has fewer problems than the others, on maintaining good average speeds and on keeping up a constant rhythm throughout the passage.” Among the production boats, the top seven are grouped within 4hrs and the 10th boat (Florian Quenot) is 6 hours shy of the leader.


    Reactions from the sailors on the eve of the start of the second leg:

    Guillaume L’Hostis (12th in the production boat category): “I’m keen to get going. I feel confident. In sporting terms, I’m lying in ambush and that suits me down to the ground. I don’t have the pressure on my shoulders. I intend to have some fun, make the most of it and give my all. It’s no secret that we’re going to have to send it! Clearly, there’s an element of stress, mainly regarding breakage and putting yourself in danger. That gets the adrenalin pumping a bit, but that’s what we were after. The weather’s shaping up to be nice with wind, waves and everything you need to make the most of the trade winds.”

    Antoine Perrin (14th in the prototype category): “The first leg was tough, but I’m fired up to get back out there and make the most of the solitude. I’ve been preparing for this moment for the past two years. The latest routing shows a fairly quick race. We’ll have to play around with the wind shifts and watch out for the squalls. They’ll be some moves to be played from the get-go. Some options could be had in the passage around Gran Canaria, with some oscillations in the wind to exploit.”

    Thomas Gaschignard (35th in the production boat category): “The pressure’s rising, but I feel positive as we’re in line for some fantastic conditions. It’ll be the same downwind conditions right to the finish line. That’s what we signed up for! The first leg was fairly complicated at some points. This time, the trade winds will kick in throughout the race and it’s going to be magical. With my Pogo 2, I think it’ll take 16-17 days.”

    Sébastien Liagre (36th in the production boats): “Lots of things are going round my head, excitement, apprehension, impatience… We’ve been preparing for this moment for a long time. I’m keen to get going and coming face to face with the ocean on my own. Last year I took 13 days to get to the Azores with my Mini and the trip went really well. This time, it’s going to be even longer.”

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  • Photoboy
    Podium Places Decided In 1st Leg 2019 Mini Transat le Boulangere

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

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


    Ambrogio Beccaria

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

    Felix De Navacelle

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

    Matthew Vincent

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


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

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


    Axel Trehin

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

    Francois Jambou

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

    Tanguy Bouroullec

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


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

    Amelie Grassi 5th in Series

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

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  • Photoboy
    Canaries Within Reach: Leader Under 20 NM


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

    François Jambou leads the fleet and Proto Division

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

    Ambrogio Beccaria Leads The Series Division

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

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

    Verdict tomorrow in the production boat category

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

    83 skippers out on the racetrack and some substantial separation

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

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

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


    Ranking on Sunday 13 October at 15:00 UTC


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


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

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  • Single Hander
    Protos certainly are faster than production boats.

    Would have thought they would be closer.

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  • Photoboy
    1st Boats Due In Sunday Morning

    Less than two days till the verdict!

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


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

    Reaching the denouement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Accessing the Mini-Transat from… Poland

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Ranking on Friday 11 October at 16:00 UTC


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


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

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  • Photoboy
    Full Speed Ahead For The Mini's

    The sailors’ versatility put to the test


    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.”


    Ranking on Thursday 10 October at 12:00 UTC


    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


    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​​​​​​​


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