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Southern Spars

Mini Transat - Focus moves to final preparations

by Solene Rennuit on 9 Oct 2013
The 84 boats of the Mini Transat 2013 in Douarnenez © Marc Sauvageot
Just five days before departure in the Mini Transat, the pontoons of Port Rhu are relatively quiet. Obviously, the 84 Ministes are, for the most part, focusing on their final preparations. For volunteers working on the preparation of the event, it is also a moment to pause before the culmination of the fortnight of activities in Douarnenez on Sunday October 13.

Yesterday evening, volunteers gathered at the invitation of the City of Douarnenez for a friendly drink in recognition of services rendered to the organisation of the event. Nearly 200 people from different backgrounds: Member of course of the nautical associations, but also of other movements, some of whom have a very distant relationship with the world of offshore racing.

The originality of the Douarnenez 2013 project lies in the subtle alchemy between the professional organisation, necessarily reduced to a minimum, and the involvement of the many associative organisations. Douarnenez Courses, prime contractor for the project, links together the key maritime associations, the town of Douarnenez, the Société des Régates de Douarnenez, DZ Voile, l’Atlantique Yacht Club and Le Winch Club. Several major international associations complement the organization such as Optimist 29, the Fédération Maritime and the Festival Maritime de Douarnenez.

From these foundations the movement that is focused on the baptism of the 2013 edition of the Mini Transat has been built. 'This is all the more exemplary since, apart from our experience in 1991 which is now past history, we started from scratch in creating the event.' confirmed Gwen Chapalain, Managing Director of the event.

Like the maritime festivals, Grand Prix Guyader and the Mini Fastnet, the organisation of the Mini Transat is also a way to perpetuate the maritime culture of Douarnenez, which was once one of the most active sardine ports in the early 20th century. Via the movement for maritime heritage, major sporting events have enabled the ancestral know-how of sailors of yesteryear to be passed down through the generations to the sailors of today. It is this maritime tradition for example, that today enables the organisers to have a fleet of fifty drivers with the experience necessary to tow 84 Minis out through the lock of Port Rhu within an hour without a hitch.

Ultimately, it is perhaps here that the secret of Douarnenez Courses lies. The active mobilisation of associations, supported by local authorities and several private partners, has forged the foundation of an organisation that has successfully carried out what appeared to be an extremely tough challenge: succeeding La Rochelle, despite the strength of its ten years experience of hosting the Mini Transat. Finally, there is a special atmosphere around the Port Rhu, an air of enthusiasm which animates the Douarnenez volunteers who display a real passion for their city, the desire to show that the maritime tradition of the city is still alive, to make the visitors feel at home.

Of course, the setting of Port-Rhu contributes greatly to the atmosphere. Boats grouped inside the dam and sluice gates of Port Rhu, the meanderers on the docks and that certain je ne sais quoi which simply cannot be defined, all of this why we always end up returning again to Douarnenez.

Race Village Programme

Wednesday, October 9
10:00 to 19.00 : Village open to the public
10:00 to 18.00 : Exhibition 'The Adventure of the Mini Transat' - Port-Musée / General Pubic (Free)
10:30 to 12:00 : Briefing on the use of the medical supplies - Auditorium / Skippers
11:00 to 12:00 : Culinary Workshop - Espace CCI / General Public
14.30 to 15.30 : Presentation of 10 skippers - Espace CCI / General Public
15.30 to 16.30 : Blind tasting of Elbé Fruits for Children - Espace CCI / General Public
18.00 to 19.00 : Recording of a TV special on the Mini Transat for Tébéo local TV - Conseil Général Tent / General Public
20.00: Jazz Concert - Auditorium Port-Musée / General Public (tickets at the tourist Mini Transat website

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