Jacques Vapillon / Sea & Co

New leader in the Mini Transat

Benoit Marie into first place in the Proto as the Mini Transat leaders close on Guadeloupe

Sunday December 1st 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

With just 148 miles to go to Pointe a Pitre, at the latest sched the Mini Transat has a new leader. At the 0700 UTC update, the mighty scow, Giancarlo Pedote's Prysmian, the long term leader in this year's race has been once again overhauled by Benoît Marie on Benoitmarie.com at the head of the Proto fleet. At the latest sched, Marie was 8.7 miles ahead of the Italian and over the previous hour had been sailing 1.5 knots faster. As they approach Guadeloupe the two Minis have converged and although close they are not quite in sight of one another.

The two boats are sailing in 15 knots ENEerly trades that are set to veer slightly into the east as they approach the finish. It is unclear is Pedote has problems on board his boat, which as TeamWork Evolution won the 2011 Mini Transat.

In the Series class, the podium placers are looking comfortable with perennial leader, Aymeric Belloir on Tout le monde chante contre le cancer, holding a mighty 185 mile lead over second placed Justine Mettraux on Team Work, in turn 107 miles in front of Simon Koster on
Go4it and with 242 miles back to fourth place. Belloir is still lying the equivalent of sixth placed overall across the two fleets, impressive given that the Series class boats are effectively dumbed down Protos with less sail area, etc.

Britain's Pip Hare on The Potting Shed is hanging to 16th place in the Series class and while in northwesterlies at the moment should see the wind freeing up over the course of today and through being in the north should see this shift before the gaggle of boats to her south.

The depression we wrote about last week is still creating havoc for those further back in the fleet. If the GRIB files are correct, it suggests that those east of 40°W are in northwesterlies, while those east of 32°W are hard on the wind in southwesterlies. In this latter case this means the bottom six in the Proto class and the bottom seven in the Series.

Latest sched here



Caught in an eternal nightmare ... Approaching the Canary Islands, the competitors in the Mini Transat, especially those who had to stop in Lanzarote, see the weather conditions blow hot and cold along the route. How many times did they think that "this time, surely the trades are here ..."? And how many times did they find themselves disillusioned? They truly deserve to reach the end of this Mini Transat.

There may be cause and effect the fact that Sisyphus is the son of Aeolus, god of wind. By trying to play with the gods, Sisyphus was condemned to constantly roll a stone to the summit of a mountain only to see it roll back down the hill again. He may perhaps have sent a part of his punishment to the sailors of the Mini Transat, since they have been involved in crossing the Atlantic, alone and waiting endlessly for the trade winds and the promise of reward after a chaotic start to the race. But nay! This year, the anticyclones of first the Azores and then Bermuda decided to play with the nerves of the competitors by emigrating to northern latitudes on the one hand, and then disappearing from the face of the map on the other. Instead, a low pressure area has generated a complex storm flow, at times leaving room for the anticipated easterly winds, before generating new areas of calm or westerly winds.

The leaders arrive at Pointe-à- Pitre tomorrow
Even for Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian), life is not so simple. The skipper of the Magnum has three times managed to widen the gap on his direct opponent Benoît Marie (benoitmarie.com). And three times, Benoît has returned to less than twenty miles from the race leader, just to just to spice things up at the end of this great struggle for victory. The winner of the 2013 edition should cross the line tomorrow during the day around mid morning, French time. But before that the two leaders will face easing winds as they approach the the finish line, winds that seem to have already found Giancarlo : the conditions ensure we will be in suspense right until the end. Behind them the struggle continues for the last spot on the podium with Rémi Fermin (Boreal), Bertrand Delesne (TeamWork Proto) and Bruno Garcia (Sampaquita) at loggerheads.

In the series boats, the hierarchy seems clearly established and the podium is unlikely to change before the finish of Aymeric Belloir (Tout le Monde Chante contre le Cancer), Justine Mettraux (TeamWork ) and Simon Koster (Go 4 It).

Anticipating the tilt of the seesaw

The middle of the fleet seems to have rediscovered the wind. Everyone is now on starboard anticipating a wind shift that should gradually turn right. In these conditions, one is tempted to give the advantage to the competitors placed furthest north in the fleet.

In the prototypes, Nicolas Boidevezi (Nature Addicts) has got the better of his immediate competitors. Louis Segre (Roll my Chicken) and Annabelle Boudinot (Agro 650) may also be under threat from Michele Zambelli (Fontanot) and Alan Roura (Navman). Both navigators have older boats, but have played a remarkable stroke of intelligence and lucidity so far.

In the series boats, Jean-Baptiste Lemaire (L’œuvre du Marin Breton) should be able to breathe a little easier. Tanguy Le Turquais (Terréal Rêve d’enfance) and Jerome d'Aboville (Bel) now find themselves in his wake and in the south. The main threat could now come from Renaud Mary (www.runo.fr), but he is still 80 miles adrift. But its hard to see what's coming, as the Mini Transat demonstrates every day. Today's gain can be overhauled tomorrow.

Pointe à Pitre at work
At the Marina Bas du Fort, the Mini Transat village is ready to welcome the first competitors, as well as the public. Everything is in place to make sure that the hassle and tensions of the crossing are quickly forgotten in the declious aroma of Ti-punch and the beguiling rhythms and warm welcome of Guadeloupe. Confidentially Yours.

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