In the Mini Transat, they are almost all there. With the exception of two or three competitors still at sea, the entire fleet is now warm and dry, either in the marina at Sada, or in the port of Gijon. The start will be from Sada as soon as the 76 boats still racing have been able to rally at the Galician port. A weather window is opening from Tuesday the 5th November.
Taking into consideration the legitimate disappointment of the competitors who were able to complete the course for this first stage between Douarnenez and Sada, the differing skill levels of the sailors in a class which is by by definition diverse, and the constraints of the particularly hostile weather, the decision to cancel the first stage was not easy. Among all these parameters, it is obvious that the safety of sailors is paramount. It was also necessary to find shelter for a fleet of over 70 boats. The links between Douarnenez and Club Naval de Gijon, and the responsiveness of the harbour master of the Asturian marina, actively supported by the City of Gijon, have been crucial to the success of the operation.
Tonight, almost the entire fleet will be safe in Gijon, with the exception of five prototypes that are at the marina in Sada. Logic dictates that it is the fleet held in Gijon that must regroup in Sada in order to start. This is partly because the estuary at Sada is in an ideal strategic position from which to pass Cape Finisterre, but also because it would be a kind of double jeopardy to ask the five solo sailors who had managed to complete the course to backtrack east to Gijon. A weather window seems to be emerging during the day on Tuesday that would allow competitors to come to the starting line in convoy. It will then take four to six days of racing to reach Lanzarote where the technical stopover whould be shortened drastically to try to reclaim at least part of the time lost on the road to the West Indies.
Nicolas Boidevezi (Nature Addicts): 'The decision to abandon the stage did not really follow the formal approach. However the goal was to get all boats to safety before the storm hits the fleet today. This is what the Race Director was doing in passing the message of the break via the support boats. For sure this is not a decision that's good to hear, but at the same time, the difficulty for the organisation is to take into account all 84 competitors, from first to last.'
Bertrand Delesne (TeamWork): 'I found the start of the race was hard. In the bay, it was gusting up to 25 knots. We hadn't sailed for a month so it was a little tough. The passage through the Raz de Sein went well but there were big puffs coming down. I thought it was pretty boat-breaking. I didn't want to push the boat too hard at that moment. I had a feeling that we could be in the bullshit.'
Robin Marais (Marcel for Ever): 'The start was very stressful because of the weather conditions. I'd not managed to pick up the weather with the SSB. But after discussion on VHF with other sailors who had questions about the weather, I saw a lot began to turn around and I decided to accompany them. I did not want to be on my own out there. I didn't have much more than thirty knots of wind, but the sea was really big. '
Arnaud Daval (Techneau): 'It was not easy conditions. We knew at the outset that the conditions would be difficult, which the technical problems of some of the others reflected. I didn't want to push the boat too hard, I tried to maintain my equipment. For me the Transat is not finished at Cape Finisterre so if I want to make it to the end, we have to look after our mounts. I paid attention to this and I did not break anything. When the cancellation of the race was announced, I pulled on the tiller and went back towards Gijon.'
by Solene Rennuit
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8:19 PM Fri 1 Nov 2013GMT
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