(October 5, 2021; Day 9) – Whilst the first four competitors in the prototype category of the 23rd Mini Transat EuroChef have now arrived in Santa Cruz de La Palma, with Irina Gracheva (800 – Path) crossing the finish today in fourth at 01H 22 min 44 s UTC (07:11:52:44 for 1350nm stage 1), there is still an intense battle underway throughout the remainder of the fleet still out on the racetrack.
The fleet today is stretched out across 500 miles in terms of distance to the goal and is 150 miles apart laterally. Within this context, it goes without saying that not all the competitors are benefiting from the same conditions.
The leader in the production boat category, Melwin Fink (920 – SignForCom), is clearly the fastest of the fleet and will remain so until at least tomorrow, which should enable him to extend right away from the bulk of the chasing pack…
Fink is expected to finish in two days, whilst the bulk of the peloton are not set to make landfall before October 9. Put plainly, what were already expected to be huge deficits are continuing to expand as a result of the weather being served up in the Atlantic.
In fact, whilst virtually all the fleet still out on the racetrack is making headway in a NW’ly breeze of around fifteen knots, the young German skipper of SignForCom is benefiting from breeze from the same sector, albeit considerably more consistent since there’s 20 to 25 knots across his patch of racetrack around Madeira.
Positioned 145 miles to his east, the other escapee of the group, Austrian Christian Kargl (980 – All Hands on Deck), is reaping the benefits of even more pressure. Over the coming hours, this might enable him to claw back a few miles in relation to the leader.
Further astern, the peloton, which is spread out from the latitude of Gibraltar to that of Porto, is working like mad to gain southing. The challenge for the Mini sailors: to try to find the best route to the Canaries by playing around with their positioning.
At the front of the pack, Julie Simon (963 – Dynamips) and Hugo Dhallenne (979 – YC Saint Lunaire) are making headway on a similar trajectory, 80 miles to the east of the direct route. Evidently it’s an option that is paying off as they have two knots more boat speed than their rivals further to the west, like Australian Christiaan Durrant (1015 – Little Rippa), Jean-Marie Jézéquel (951 – FondApro), Jean Marre (991 – Sport dans la Ville – Time for Life), and Cécile Andrieu (893 – Groupe Adre).
Moreover, their route is now being mirrored by other stalwarts from the class like Léo Debiesse (966 – Les Alphas) in the production boat category and Sébastien Pebelier (787 – Decosail) in the prototype category, who might well be able to eat into their deficits and move up the leader board by tomorrow.
The same is true for Basile Bourgnon (975 – Edenred) who, after originally indicating that he would be making a pit-stop in Cascais yesterday evening, has ended up resolving his spreader issue alone at sea and is hence continuing racing.
After a one day postponement, the 23rd edition of the Mini Transat, reserved for the Mini 6.50, the smallest offshore racing class at 21-feet, got underway on September 27, 2021.
A notable proving ground for sailors with shorthanded aspirations, it is also test platform for new boat types, with 65 competitors entering in the production division for manufactured boats while the prototype division has 25 entrants with custom designs.
Held biennially, with limited participation for safety that includes strict qualification guidelines, the 4,050 nm course is divided in two parts: Les Sables d’Olonne (France) to Santa Cruz de La Palma in the Canaries (Spain), restarting on October 29 for the finish at Saint-François in Guadeloupe.
Source: Mini Transat
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