After leaving Les Sables d’Olonne yesterday at the start of the afternoon for a first leg of 1,350 miles bound for Santa Cruz de La Palma, the 90 sailors of La Boulangère Mini Transat, as expected, experienced a first rather quiet night, propelled by light airs on a nevertheless rough sea. This Tuesday, everyone continues their journey at low speed, as close as possible to the great circle, towards the waypoint positioned north of Gijón which they should reach in the middle of next night. It’s time to concentrate to move the boats forward as quickly as possible and make the most of the small variations in the wind which oscillates between 5 and 12 knots, and which should even desert the water for a while at the end of the day, during a transition that was expected to be a little tricky.
Setting off yesterday shortly after 1:30 p.m. for the first stage of the event, the 90 sailors of the 24th La Boulangère Mini Transat slowly but surely got into the thick of things with rather light wind conditions. It is thus that they evolved in slow motion all night and still in slow motion that they are progressing today, now propelled by a flow from the northwest sector which is not consistent and quite variable. Conditions which are expected to last at least until the night from Wednesday to Thursday, off Cape Ortegal located in Galicia. “The conditions will then significantly deteriorate, particularly for the frontrunners, who will have to deal with gusts of 30 knots and waves of three meters,” explains Christian Dumard, the weather consultant for the event, also indicating that the fleet is today slightly behind yesterday’s routings because of the swell which does not facilitate the progress of the boats and which has, moreover, put some stomachs to the test. The good news, in this new context, is that the conditions will be less bracing than expected when overflowing Cape Finisterre, a place still very feared by sailors. The bad news, in quotes, is that strategic choices could be less open. “If we can always expect to see competitors heading west and others passing as close as possible to the Spanish and Portuguese coasts, the game seems to be closing in a bit in terms of options. Let’s say, in any case, that today it is less obvious than yesterday that the troops are having a blast,” adds the specialist.
Another 36 hours of light weather before a clear change
In the meantime, the solo sailors have no other choice than to continue their routes on a single tack, with only a few shifts to play for. As proof, both in the Proto and in the Series, the lateral gaps are around fifteen miles. Everyone tries to find the best path to the virtual brand. A mark that the first should cross in the middle of next night after having negotiated a somewhat complicated transition at the end of the day, this Tuesday. Indeed, before recovering a south-easterly flow and, as a result, finding themselves downwind, they will have to battle in the sluggish conditions for a handful of hours. In this little game, we have already seen that some were more comfortable than others. Among them, we can notably cite Victor Mathieu (967 – Celeris Informatique), who has made a strong impression since the start of this first stage, but also Federico Waksman (10109 – Repremar – Shipping Agengy Uruguay) and Gaby Bucau (965 – Maximum). The latter have, in fact, achieved a very slight break over the competition among the prototypes. Same thing or almost among the Series boats for Bruno Lemunier (893 – Kalisto & Aérofab) and Titouan Quiviger (1009 – Les Extraordinaires) even if, at this stage of the race, the gaps remain tiny within the peloton which is holding its own. twenty short miles, with the exception of Franck Lauvray (346 – Alice) and Alpha Eon Diakite (254 – 30 days at sea for our heroes). These two are slightly behind this afternoon. The first, the fault of an H.S. fuel cell and the second due to an energy blackout which he hopes to resolve in order to continue his race as did Thibault Chomard (624 – Grand Océan 624 ) in the morning for his pilot cylinder problem.