Atlantic Ocean – This Sunday, a day after the start of the first leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère, the 87 participants have been making the most of the conditions, which are currently conducive to slipping along. However, all that’s about to change tonight as they have to negotiate a zone of high pressure in the Bay of Biscay, with no-one likely to escape its clutches. This could be good news for some, and a little less so for others… At 16:00 UTC, Axel Tréhin was leading the fleet of prototypes whilst Italian Ambrogio Beccaria headed the production boats. No surprises for now then among the favourites…
The great news is that the 87 competitors in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère have all come off unscathed after negotiating their first front last night. There were a few little technical issues to lament on certain boats, but these have been quickly repaired and the respective sailors are up and running once more.
Renowned for her complexities, Arkema 3, Raphaël Lutard’s boat (900), is not the most versatile of prototypes. However, she is extremely efficient on certain points of sail. Raphaël has proven as much this Sunday. On a reach in twenty knots or so of breeze, she managed to keep the firm favourites at bay for some time, before finally being overtaken this afternoon by Axel Tréhin (945) and François Jambou (865), both bringing their A game. Tanguy Bouroullec (969), 4th aboard the other foiler of the fleet, is also keeping pace. The lighter conditions forecast will likely see Raphaël Lutard have a tough time of it… whilst Erwan Le Méné hopes to make the most of the gentler strategic conditions to move up through the fleet. Indeed, prior to the start, Erwan admitted that he feared that any reaching would favour his direct rivals. This evening, he’s lying in 14th position, some 27 miles shy of the leader. However, he has plenty of time to play catch-up. Finally, it’s worth noting the fantastic start posted by Marie Gendron (930), the only woman competing in the prototype category, who was positioned in 5th place at 16:00 UTC. It’ll doubtless come as no surprise to those who have followed Marie’s career and know how determined she is.
The big guns are just where they were expected to be! Looking at the cartography, the names of the top fifteen competitors are all the sailors we imagined we’d see at the front of the pack. Indeed the hierarchy is establishing itself and Italian Ambrogio Beccaria (943) is assuming his status as favourite, up in the top spot at the 16:00 UTC position report this Sunday, ahead of two other formidable competitors sailing a Pogo 3, Félix De Navacelle (916) and Lauris Noslier (893). Competing on scow bows, Florian Quenot (946) and Guillaume Quilfen (977) complete the Top 5 at 16:00 UTC. The day after the start, there is already a substantial split between the fleet, both in terms of distance to the goal (45 miles between the leader and the last boat) and lateral separation.
Though they’re sailing in fairly bracing conditions, powered up in a drag race, the sailors are on a secure tack and can take the time to get some rest and gather their strength with a view to a second particularly technical night ahead. The reason for this is their passage through a zone of high pressure that will spare no-one. In fact, the wind is set to seriously drop away over the course of the evening, to become virtually inexistent overnight, the whole thing washed down by a not insignificant swell (2.50 metres). A fine dilemma in prospect then for the Mini sailors, who will have to be right on their game in order to make the most of any veins of breeze and try to hook onto the S/SW’ly breeze, which will carry them almost as far as Cape Finisterre, which the first prototypes are expected to reach on Tuesday morning. Once there, they’ll be able to launch into some crazy and much-awaited runs under spinnaker.
Ranking on Sunday 6 October at 16:00 UTC
1 – Axel Trehin (945 – Project Rescue Ocean) some 1,160.7 miles from the finish
2 – François Jambou (865 – Team BFR Marée Haute Jaune) 3.3 miles behind the leader
3 – Raphaël Lutard (900 – Arkema 3) 5.1 miles behind the leader
1 – Ambrogio Becarria (943 – Geomag) some 1,174.4 miles from the finish
2 – Félix De Navacelle (916 – Youkounkoun) 3.2 miles behind the leader
3 – Lauris Noslier (893 – Avoriaz 1800) 4.7 miles behind the leader