The dream life of the Mini sailor

Sailing, Sports, Weather — By on November 1, 2017 at 8:26 PM

– Perfect conditions for setting sail
– The fleet under spinnaker in a light trade wind
– First strategic choices ahead: offshore or hugging the African coast

Naturally there was a fair amount of emotion at the start of this second leg. Indeed, you’re unlikely to set off across the Atlantic for the first time without a little apprehension and even the old-timers knew that they were heading off for at least two weeks given the weather conditions forecast and the change of course via the Cape Verde islands.

It was Marc Miro Rubio (Alfin), who was the first to leave the pontoon in Las Palmas aboard the only Pogo 1 of the fleet, whilst David Allamelou (Boréal) led the way in the prototype category, both followed by a procession of solo sailors filing out of the Latina Vela marina. For the first-timers whose backs were against the wall, they tried hard to disguise their apprehension, whilst the more experienced sailors were inevitably a little more detached. The biggest cheer unquestionably went to Marta Guemes (Artelia), the local of the leg. In a concession to modern times a number of competitors fired up their little Go-Pro cameras to ensure they remember every detail of their Mini experience, starting with the images of the friends they are leaving behind them.

Gentle start
Out on the water, the wind shifted round to the ENE shortly before the start. As such, on crossing the line, most of the solo sailors promptly hoisted their code zeros, whilst the more daring amongst them went straight for the large spinnaker. Slightly to leeward of the start line, Ian Lipinski (Griffon.fr) followed by Jonathan Chodkiewiez (Tasty Granny), Gauthier Enguehard (Facet Ingenierie) and Quentin Vlamynck (Arkema 3), quickly moved up to the front of the fleet. In the group to windward, Arthur Léopold-Léger (Antal-XPO) got the better of the fleet of production boats led by Yannick Le Clech (Dragobert) and shadowed by Ambrogio Beccaria (Alla Grande Ambecco), Clarisse Crémer (TBS) and Erwan Le Draoulec (Emile Henry). To leeward, Pierre Revol (Maribambelle) extricated himself from the masses to position himself at the front of the fleet. Little by little, the spinnakers filled as the wind lifted. The long descent southwards has begun.

Initial tactical choices
Once the island of Gran Canaria is behind them, the fleet will be tasked with making its initial tactical choices. The general trend is likely to involve pushing along on port tack as far as the coast of Africa. However, once they get close to the shores of Mauritania, the racers are split on how to tackle the next section. Certain routing options recommend playing with the effects of the headland by linking together a series of manœuvres under spinnaker, at times under the cover of darkness. This route is somewhat hazardous of course, given the increased risk of encountering the local fishermen, who may prove to be intrusive. A number of competitors admitted that they were keen to head further offshore the minute they hit the steadier winds forecast. Accepting that you are likely to lose a bit of ground in order to reduce the risk at the start of what promises to be a long leg is not necessarily a miscalculation…

Position report on 1 November at 15:00 UTC

Prototypes
1 Andrea Fornaro (Sideral) 2,930.4 miles from the finish
2 Erwan le Mené (Rousseau Clôtures) 0.5 miles behind the leader
3 Ian Lipinski (Griffon.fr) 0.5 miles behind the leader
4 Quentin Vlamynck (Arkema 3) 0.7 miles behind the leader
5 Simon Koster (Eight Cube Sersa) 0.8 miles behind the leader

Production boats
1 Ambrogio Beccaria (Alla Grande Ambecco) 2,931.5 miles from the finish
2 Yannick Le Clech (Dragobert) 0.0 miles behind the leader
3 Clarisse Crémer (TBS) 0.4 miles behind the leader
4 Erwan Le Draoulec (Emile Henry) 0.5 miles behind the leader
5 Pierre Revol (Maribambelle) 0.6 miles behind the leader

·         Sunday 1 October: Start of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère in La Rochelle, France

·         21st edition

·         4,050 miles to cover between La Rochelle – Las Palmas in Gran Canaria and Le Marin (Martinique)

·         81 skippers at the start

·         10 women

·         11 nationalities 

·         20 years: age of the youngest skipper in the race: Erwan Le Draoulec

·         62 years: age of the oldest skipper in the race: Fred Guérin

·         25 prototypes

·         56 production boats

·         66 rookies

·         15 ‘repeat offenders’

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