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Harken AUS Reflex 728

Mini Transat - Fleet advances between squalls

by Solene Rennuit on 23 Nov 2013
Jonas Gerkens (590 - Netwerk 2) Jacques Vapillon / Mini Transat 2013
Mini Transat - Douarnenez to Pointe-a-Pitre. From beautiful straight lines to course changes at the mercy of the oscillating trade winds. The competitors' routes show a guilty penchant for zigzaging back and forth reflecting the instability ot the conditions they are encountering. Under these conditions, each must make the most of the opportunities presented to them. Although the leading boat has now passed the halfway mark (1850 miles to go), Guadeloupe is still a long way off ...

A time of squalls : the competitors speeds frequently vary from one hour to the next, from two knots to eight, according to the gusts of wind that first one and then another manages to catch. In this game, the routes may seem erratic, but it is above all the wind that sets the agenda. The only advantage of this snail like pace is that it means there is little risk for the competitors of being hit in the face with a flying fish.

As they make their way out into the Atlantic, the singlehanders fall gradually into rythum with their boat. Its time for essential routines, for daily checks, for a lifestyle that increasingly bears little resemblance to normal life. Sleeping in installments, eating when they feel the need, staying alert to the weather conditions. Any encounter becomes an event. In this game, some are able to stay chatting for long periods on the radio while others just laconicly submit essential information as they are isolated in their own little bubble.

But one must go on with the race regardless of the haphazard winds, that surely tests the nerves of all the competitors. The lack of communication with the outside world which would allow you to confirm your scenarios is another issue : 'I have just been stopped by a squall in which the wind is conspicuously absent, please tell me that my nearest competitors haven't simulataneously been enjoying a breeze and been able to escaped?' You have to be mentally tough to make your way without being able to ask more questions ...

Nevertheless, the positions have changed little at the front of the fleet. Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian) maintains a margin of twenty miles on Benoît Marie (benoitmarie.com) who is still firmly embedded as the second prototype. Fourth and fifth, Bruno Garcia (Sampaquita) and Bertrand Delesne (TeamWork) who have gradually fallen into the wake of the two leaders, 150 miles behind. Only Rémi Fermin (Boreal), on the boat he designed and built himself, had managed to create some distance to the south which may pay off in the coming days. For now, he is a hundred miles behind, a gap that could be quicly reduced, as long as the wind reshuffles the cards by enabling the trade winds in the southern part of the racing area.

In the series boats, Aymeric Belloir (Tout le Monde Chante contre le Cancer) is in an ideal situation. His direct competitors Simon Koster (Go 4 it) , Justine Mettraux (TeamWork) and Jean-Baptiste Lemaire (L’œuvre du Marin Breton) are 100 miles back on an identical route. Behind this group, you have to look back one hundred miles to find the very compact peloton led by Tanguy Le Turquais (Terréal Rêve d’Enfance) and Eric Cochet (Abers & Co). Among the competitors who left Lanzarote, some have opted for a route along the African coast, so as to descend faster towards more sustained winds.

This is the case for Jonas Gerkens (Netwerk 2) , Pip Hare (The Potting Shed) and Maxime Salle (Bongo). At Puerto Calero, they are still two boats yet to leave the docked, Louis Mauffret (Solidarity) and Richard Hewson (RG 650). They could be joined by Pilar Pasanau (Peter Punk) who seems to be closing the coast of Lanzarote, and even Nolwen de Carlan (Reality) who has turned around.

Nolwen has activated his button to say all is well on board. They are still three boats between Gibraltar and Lanzarote. Diane Reid (One Girl 's Ocean Challenge) and Aron Meder (Felicity 2) are under jury rig and will put into port. Ludovic Méchin (Paris Texas) has a moral duty to cross in the boat should have been that of Valerio Bruni-Tedeschi. Even though his race might now be on hold for this edition, the adventure still has meaning.

Yslab Ranking (series boats) at 16.00 (GMT +1)

1. Aymeric Belloir (810 – Tout le Monde chante contre le Cancer) with 1873.3 nm to finish
2. Simon Koster (819 – Go 4 it) + 94.1 nm
3. Justine Mettraux (824 - TeamWork) + 96.8 nm
4. Jean-Baptiste Lemaire (607 – Œuvre du Marin Breton) + 107.1 nm
5. Tanguy Le Turquais (599 – Terréal Rêve d’enfance) + 208.9 nm

Cegelec / Eurovia Ranking (prototypes) at 16.00 (GMT +1)

1. Giancarlo Pedote (747 – Prysmian) at 1749.6 nm to finish
2. Benoit Marie (667 – benoitmarie.com) + 19 nm
3. Rémi Fermin (741 – Boréal) + 118.1 nm
4. Bruno Garcia (240 – Sampaquita) + 145.2 nm
5. Bertrand Delesne (754 – TeamWork Proto) + 184.4 Mini Transat website

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