The much-awaited moment is finally upon us! Tomorrow, Saturday 5 October at 10:30 hours, the 87 competitors in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère will take the start in La Rochelle of the first leg, bound for Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (1,350 miles).
After a two-week wait (the original kick-off was lined up for 22 September), the sailors are eager and excited to get going, though this is inevitably accompanied by some apprehension. On the eve of this leap into the unknown, all of them have the weather pattern etched on their brains and are expecting a full-on passage with a whole range of conditions.
Sometimes, thirty days can seem like forever. The women and men competing in the 22nd edition of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère can certainly share this sentiment. However, since Wednesday, they’ve been all set to go.
The Bay of Biscay has become soothed and a fine weather window has opened up. Tomorrow, on Saturday 5 October, the Mini 6.50s will leave the pontoons of the Bassin des Chalutiers from 07:30 to 09:30 hours, for a scheduled start at 10:30 hours. For the 87 entries, taking the start will be the first great achievement after several years of effort, total commitment and great sacrifice.
Getting (back) into race mode
The postponement of the start has given the sailors the chance to pamper the boats and set sail with a very satisfactory level of preparation. However, the waiting around and the uncertainty has also meant that their brains were no longer locked into the race. This Friday though, as they busy themselves with last-minute preparations, loading fresh food, putting their sails in place, analysing the weather in great detail and running the routing software, each of them have rallied their thoughts together and got back in the zone.
“It’s time not to waste any time!”
So the fleet will set sail at 10:30 hours. “Conditions will be light with a W’ly wind of 5 to 8 knots at the start. There will be no windward mark or coastal course around the bay of La Rochelle. It’s time not to waste any time!” stresses Denis Hugues, Race Director of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère. “Leaving early will enable the racers to have a good day to find their sea legs again before the first night, which is always complicated as you’re always trying to get your bearings a bit.”
A rapid first leg?
The competitors will gently get into their race, even though the swell won’t be insignificant in the Bay of Biscay. On Sunday morning, there will be a small front to negotiate with the wind shifting round from the SW to the NW. This medium NW’ly wind should enable the competitors to launch onto a reach (wind on the beam) towards Cape Finisterre. Next up, competitors will have to traverse a zone of light wind before the arrival of a second front and the establishing of a solid N’ly wind, which will propel the Minis along from Cape Finisterre. High speed will be on the menu and the first prototypes could well make the Canaries in under a week…