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J Composites 2022 - J45 LEADERBOARD

Entries closed as Les Sables-Les Acores-Les Sables race full for the first time

by Robin Clegg 11 Jul 08:30 PDT 19 July 2022
Les Sables - Les Acores - Les Sables (SAS) Race © Christophe Breschi

The growing popularity of the Classe Mini has continued with the upcoming Les Sables - Les Acores - Les Sables (SAS) being oversubscribed for the first time in its history.

The high level of interest in the bi-annual event also includes a record number of female sailors confirmed to compete this year. The success comes as the Mini 6.50 class has also seen the highest number of participants ever across both the prototype and production boat classes for this year's series.

Following the prologue, the first leg of the 2,600nm SAS race, starting on July 19th, will see the fleet of 72 boats set sail for Horta with the first arrivals due in the Azores around July 27th. The fleet of production and prototype boats will then head back to Les Sables on August 4th.

So far this season, the leaderboard has been dominated by French sailors with Bruno Lemunier, Jean Marre and Hugues de Premare in close contention in the production rankings. Victor Mathieu, Anne-Gaël Gourdin and Hubert Marechal currently lead the prototype table.

Amélie Grassi, president of the Classe Mini, said: "The unprecedented interest we have seen in the class this year has continued with over 30 sailors on the waiting list for places in the SAS.

"As an amateur class we are proud to be a breeding ground for the next generation of professional sailors who can hone their skills on some challenging circuits against tough opposition. We also encourage diversity in the sport of sailing and welcome the increased number of female sailors taking part this year which will hopefully lead to a greater number of women athletes competing in the sport in future."

The record for the distance travelled in a Mini 6.50 was set in the second leg of the SAS in 2010 as Bertrand Delesne covered 304.9 miles in 24 hours with an average speed of 12.7 knots in the prototype 754 Prati'bûches. Delesne had covered 1,300 miles in 5 days 13 hours and 27 minutes.

Ian Lipinski is one of an illustrious list of sailors who developed their skills or were 'born' in Classe Mini. Lipinski, who took part in the SAS in 2012 and 2014, has gone on to achieve success as a record- breaking professional sailor.

He said: "The first of the two editions of the SAS gave me exceptional memories. It was the first time I had taken part in a long offshore race aboard a mini. I remember feeling a mixture of excitement and apprehension when I left the pontoon of Les Sables but I really enjoyed the experience and what I learnt from that race in high summer when the days are long and the nights are short. It's an opportunity to fully experience your first struggles and the best preparation for a career in sailing."

The starting line up of the last edition of the Vendée Globe saw no less than 18 former mini sailors in contention for the offshore racing title. A roster of previous Classe Mini competitors includes Yannick Bestaven, Thomas Ruyant, Ellen MacArthur, Sam Davies and Clarisse Crémer.

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