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Mini Transat Now Just 5 Days Out

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  • Mini Transat Now Just 5 Days Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Brothers and sisters at sea

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

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

    Memorable finishes…

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

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

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


    The Prologue postponed until Friday

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

    New edition for the Collectif Rochelais Mini Transat!

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

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

    A beautiful 2019 edition in prospect!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “An extraordinary journey into your inner self”

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

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

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


    Arnaud Machado forced to remain dockside

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

    More info at
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery

  • #2
    Humberto Forces Mini Transat Postponement

    Hurricane Humberto spinning in the North Atlantic

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

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

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

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



    "Getting as many sailors as possible to Martinique"

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

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




    Sunday's festivities are maintained with a singlehanded prologue

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


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

      Tis the season.


      • #4
        Savage Storms Delay Start Of Min Transat Further

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

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

        “Very complicated to set off before Wednesday”

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

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

        " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

 Photo Gallery


        • #5
          Better safe than sorry.

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


          • #6
            The Window Cracks Open Saturday For Min Transat Start

            October 5th Prediction via windy.ty

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

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

            " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

   Photo Gallery


            • #7
              The Mini's Finally Escape La Rochelle


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

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

              all images ©Breschi/

              The calm before the storm

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

              First front due to roll through tonight

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

     Photo Gallery


              • #8
                Mini Transat Fleet Skirt The Worst

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

                Cape Finisterre tomorrow

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

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

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

                Ranking on Monday 7 October at 16:00 UTC


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


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

                " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

       Photo Gallery


                • #9
                  Full Speed Ahead For Mini Transat Fleet


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

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

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

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

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

                  Two competitors on technical stop

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

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

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


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

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

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

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



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


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


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



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

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

         Photo Gallery


                  • #10
                    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​​​​​​​

                    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

           Photo Gallery


                    • #11
                      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

                      " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

             Photo Gallery


                      • #12
                        Protos certainly are faster than production boats.

                        Would have thought they would be closer.


                        • #13
                          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

                          " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

                 Photo Gallery


                          • #14
                            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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                            • #15
                              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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