In the Mini Transat, this time, surely, there can be nothing left to keep the fleet on the dock. After over a month of waiting, it's time for the race to resume its rightful place. And the menu looks enticing, although it attention will have to be paid to some extremes. A powerful north to northeast system awaits the fleet in the early hours of the race. The Portuguese trade winds should be present up to the Canaries and maybe beyond.
Keeping out of the danger zone. Starting tomorrow morning, downwind sails will hoisted and the Minis should quickly be averaging over ten knots. Just like a black run, they will have to negotiate the sheer face of Cape Finisterre where winds can sometimes reach over 40 knots. Then it will be a matter of choice. Some will prefer to head off to mine a vein of strong winds, which could be in excess of 35 knots. Others will choose to sail south along the coast of Portugal where the winds should traditionally be more manageable. For the competitors and routers (who can still give advice as the soloists have not yet started) alike, its a difficult dilemma. Up until what point is it profitable to take advantage of the stronger winds? Especially since sea state has such a direct correlation to the smooth running of these little sleds which are, at the end of the day, only 6.50m long.
Some routing puts the first boats in the Canaries in less than four days and early estimates anticipate an arrival in Guadeloupe after 17 to 18 days of racing for the first prototypes. The first series boats may follow within 48 hours. If this is the case, it will be one of the fastest ever Atlantic crossings, adding a new record to a Mini Transat edition that is already long on superlatives.
Regardless, competitors prefer to work on the basis of 24-25 days at sea. You're never safe from an incident or a deteriorating weather forecast. Careful management of all supplies is therefore essential to keep within an acceptable weight and ensure good weight distribution inside the boat. In addition to the freeze-dried foods, the sailors have invaded the local supermarket to stock up on some earthly pleasures to keep morale high. We’ve even seen a few hams making their way aboard. Others make sure they have their lucky charms and mascots with them to help them cross the Atlantic. Like a good Alsatian Nicolas Boidevezi (Nature Addicts) ships his favorite stork (the regional bird of Alsace) whose name is Natalie, while Benoît Marie (benoitmarie.com) has been entrusted with the soft toy that accompanied Jean-Luc Van Den Heede when he completed his first Vendée Globe, and which was then given to Alessandro Di Benedetto for the 2012 edition. Suffice to say he is an exceptional companion ... He must be when his purpose in life it to keep you out of the danger zone on the Atlantic.
Robert Rosen Jacobson (Postillion Hotels): 'I feel relaxed. It was a good idea to delay the start unti tomorrow morning. I'm pretty confident, happy to go. It’s likely that we will be at sea for more than 30 days this time. It's actually quite moving to know that we head out for a single stage this time.'
Nolwen de Carlan, (Reality): 'I'm happy to leave, it's time. I still have some a few things to finish tinkering with. Now I am working on the storage, finding a place for everything. We must be careful, but it's good that we leave.'
Alan Roura (Navman): 'I'm obviously happy. At the same time, I feel a mixture of feelings ranging from concentration and pleasure to a little apprehension. It's not easy to know how we will sail in the strong wind, even though I know the boat is strong.'
Gwénolé Gahinet (Watever/Logways): 'I'm happy to leave, but a little tired. I took a nap today, it made me feel so much better. When you have down time, you always find something to tweak, something to add to the job list. The conditions we will encounter? The breeze downwind, is something that I do not know well. I see guys like Bertrand (Delesne) or Nico (Boidevezi) rubbing their hands, but we will adapt ... '
by Solene Rennuit
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8:01 PM Tue 12 Nov 2013GMT
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