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Classe Minis, mighty Ultims and a newly elected face on US Sailing's Board of Directors

by David Schmidt 19 Nov 2019 08:00 PST November 19, 2019
Mini-Transat La Boulangère Leg 2 Day 5 © Marin Avram

While much of the sailing world's attention has been riveted to the doublehanded, 4,335 nautical mile Transat Jacques Vabre (TJV) race, which stretched from Le Harve, France, to Salvador de Bahia in Brazil, two other important offshore events have also been unfurling. Interestingly, these two races involve some of the smallest, and some of the mightiest, racing yachts afloat, and while the boatspeeds and technology levels are wildly different between the two events, two common threads that run through both of these races, and through the TJV: offshore adventure and high-level performance sailing.

The first of the events is the two-stage Mini-Transat La Boulangère race, which is contested by singlehanded sailors racing aboard both production and prototype Classe Mini sailboats (two classes, both of which weigh in at roughly 21 feet, LOA). The first stage of this race saw 87 boats depart La Rochelle, France, on October 5, bound for Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, while leg two of this transatlantic adventure took the fleet from Las Palmas to Le Marin on the French-flagged island of Martinique.

François Jambou (FRA), sailing aboard his prototype Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune, completed Leg Two in 12 days, 02 hours, 27 minutes and 07 seconds to take the win in this highly competitive event that has historically served as a feeder event for higher-profile events such as the Vendée Globe.

"I feel very moved and I just can't get my head around what I've achieved," said Jambou in an official Mini-Transat La Boulangère media release. "I've made a lot of sacrifices that all seem to make sense with this victory. My whole life has been geared around this, around making it this far. I haven't had a salary for the past year and a half because I stopped working. I haven't really been there for my 3-year-old son of late either. My partner has been behind me all the way and I thank her for that because without her I'd have never been able to do this.

"This victory will change my life," continued Jambou. "There will be a before and an after."

Jambou was joined on the winner's podium of Leg Two in the prototype class by Axel Tréhin (FRA), who won the first leg of this two-leg race, and by Morten Bogacki (GER).

In the production class, skipper Ambrogio Beccaria (ITL) added a win in Leg Two that sealed his overall dominance after also taking class line honors in Leg One. Beccaria was joined on the leg-two production-class podium by Nicolas d'Estais (FRA) and Benjamin Ferré (FRA).

Impressively, Beccaria, sailing aboard his production build, beat Bogacki, sailing aboard his prototype design, across the finishing line.

"I've been working towards this for the past five years," said Beccaria in an official event press release. "I feel very emotional. That's it now, I've done it! I haven't got a true grasp of what's happened yet, it's really a dream come true. I was leading the whole time, but out on the water it wasn't easy."

As for how he managed to claim victory in both legs of this competitive race, Beccaria revealed that fear-management and vessel-management both played key roles, especially on Leg Two. "My boat is simple," he said. "I reckon they must have frightened themselves more in the prototype fleet. I didn't think it would be possible to compete with the top prototypes."

In terms of overall results, Jambou claimed victory in the prototype class, followed by Trehin and Bogacki, while Beccaria claimed the overall win in the production class, followed by d'Estais; third place had not yet been established at the time of this writing.

Jumping from the Mini-Transat La Boulangère to the triple-handed Brest Atlantiques race involves swinging one's focus from 21-foot monohulls to massive trimarans. The 14,000 nautical mile Brest Atlantiques race, which saw a four-strong fleet depart from Brest, France, on November 5, is raced aboard the mighty Ultim fleet and performs a figure-eight course in the North and South Atlantic Oceans.

While teams have been dealing with their shares of mishaps, collisions with unidentified floating objects, and challenging weather patterns, as of this writing, co-skippers Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier, sailing aboard Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, were leading the hunt, followed by Francois Gabart and Gwenole Gahinet, sailing aboard Trimaran Macif, and by Thomas Colville and Jean-Luc Nelias, sailing aboard Sodebo Ultim 3.

These three boats are being stalked by fourth-placed Actual Leader (Yves Le Blevec and Alex Pella), but given that there's a lot of ocean left to negotiate before this race is over, these results are far from indelible.

Sail-World wishes all of the Brest Atlantiques sailors, as well as all singlehanded sailors still competing in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère race, safe and speedy passage.

Finally, much closer to home, word broke last week that former Olympian and champion-level sailor Briana Provancha has been selected to serve as Sailor Athlete Director on US Sailing's Board of Directors. Provancha was elected to this position by US Sailing's Sailor Athletes.

"I am extremely honored to be nominated for a position on the Board of Directors as a representative of the Sailor Athletes," said Provancha in an official US Sailing press release. "It excites me that US Sailing is providing opportunities for younger, active racers in the management of our sport, and it means a lot to me to give back to a community that has made such a positive impact on my life."

Sail-World wishes Provancha good luck in her new role, and we wish all U.S. flagged Olympic-class sailors good luck as they prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

May the four winds blow you safely home,
David Schmidt

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