Please select your home edition
MS Amlin 2017 Name Change 728x90

Getting into the swing of things in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère

by Aurélie Bargat 2 Oct 2017 19:49 BST 2 October 2017

The first 24 hours of a race like the Mini-Transat La Boulangère are a funny old time. Whatever we say and whatever we do, it takes time to adapt before you can power along at your full potential and really enjoy being at sea.

This is particularly true when the weather's not really on your side: grey skies, rough seas, upwind sailing. The tough times will give way to better days in the fullness of time of course.

The first 24 hours are now in the wake of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère fleet. For all that, the switch from one world to another hasn't gone without its share of difficulties as a result of minor preparation issues and the time required for the solo sailors to get into the swing of things.

Seasick but not sick of the sea

Enemy number one for some at the moment is sea sickness. At this morning's audio session, certain sailors admitted feeling a little under the weather, including Julien Bozzolo (, François Denis ( and Arnaud Etchandy (Ipar Hego). They're surely not alone in this, but at the front of the fleet the leaders are already being careful not to disclose any signs of weakness as tradition dictates.

Technical glitches

The first hours of racing can also have their share of nasty surprises. Contrary to professional skippers, a Mini sailor rarely has a dedicated 'préparateur' or shore crew. Indeed, when it's not the racer himself or herself, friends often step in to make sure the boat is ready to go within the time limit. In these conditions, it's hard to be totally shipshape and some sailors are lamenting minor issues which, though not dramatic, can make life awkward in these initial hours of racing. In this way, Julien Héreu (Poema Insurance) has been trying to resolve an issue with his generator, whilst Marc Miro (Alfin) has reported difficulties getting his AIS to work. Meantime, Irish skipper Thomas Dolan ( has had to retrace his steps after realising that he'd failed to respect the course marks at the coastal course gate. Italian Matteo Rusticali (Spot), who set sail at the helm of the oldest boat in the race, built for the Mini-Transat 1991, has sadly dismasted and was originally making for La Rochelle under jury rig. Given his course, it would seem that he's now opted instead for the mouth of the Gironde estuary to make landfall.

Strategic headache ahead

For now, the remainder of the fleet is trying to contend with a system of prevailing westerlies. All in all, everyone had opted to sail on starboard tack taking them towards Cape Ortegal. With the wind kicking back in from the west, the first choices will have to made: continue along on the same tack or make headway to the north? The weather forecasts are announcing the arrival of a front via the north-west, which should generate some north-easterly wind off its back. By continuing on their tack, the sailors may be in with a chance of closing on the tip of Spain and reaping the benefits of a wind that will ultimately provide everyone with downwind conditions. By making headway to the north, it should be possible to anticipate the arrival of the front to ensure they're first to benefit from the wind shift. At the head of the fleet, the skippers appear to have opted for the second solution, with the exception of Romain Bolzinger ( Leading the march, Erwan le Mené (Rousseau Clôtures) once more has the edge over Ian Lipinski ( but there is little separating them. Behind the leaders, three sailors are managing to keep pace: Aurélien Poisson (TeamWork), who has really been on his game since the start of the race, Jorg Riechers (Lilienthal) and Charlotte Méry (Optigestion – Femmes de Bretagne).

Among the production boats, a number of competitors thought Rémi Aubrun (Alternative Sailing – Constructions du Belon) would be the one to beat, even though he's done little racing this season. A quick look at the cartography would suggest they were right to be wary as he's keeping a firm hand on Erwan Le Draoulec (Emile Henry), the latter just two tenths of a mile in front. Valentin Gauthier (Shaman – Banque du Léman) completes the current podium. Also worth noting is the fine performance posted by the Czech sailor, Pavel Roubal (Pogo Dancer), who is just two miles shy of the leaders, despite some complicated training conditions for this sailor, who divides his time between his life in Brno and the Med. Prior to the Mini-Transat, Pavel took a break from sailing to recharge his batteries and spend the summer with his partner and his daughters. His method seems to be paying off...

Ranking at 15:00 UTC: (top five)

1 Erwan le Mené – Rousseau Clôtures – some 1,203.2 miles from the finish
2 Ian Lipinski – – 1.1 miles behind the leader
3 Romain Bolzinger – – 2.2 miles behind the leader
4 Aurélien Poisson – TeamWork – 2.7 miles behind the leader
5 Jörg Riechers – Lilienthal – 3.7 miles behind the leader

Production boats
1 Erwan Le Draoulec – Emile Henry – some 1,208.9 miles from the finish
2 Rémi Aubrun – Alternative Sailing – Constructions du Belon – 0.2 miles behind the leader
3 Valentin Gauthier – Shaman – Banque du Léman – 0.9 miles behind the leader
4 Pierre Chedeville – Blue Orange Games – Fair Retail – 1.5 miles behind the leader
5 Clarisse Crémer – TBS – 1.8 miles behind the leader

Related Articles

Tom Dolan in the running
For prestigious Irish Sailor of the Year award The nomination comes after Dolan, from Kells, County Meath, finished sixth overall in the iconic Mini Transat race, a 4,000-mile epic across the Atlantic alone in 21ft boats. Posted on 9 Dec 2017
Entries open for Drheam Cup - Destination Cotentin
Qualifier for the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe The race will be held from Thursday 19 to Sunday 29 July 2018, leaving from La Trinité-sur-Mer and arriving in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin. One of the courses will be a qualifier for the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe. Posted on 5 Dec 2017
Ireland's Dolan sails into history books
With top Mini Transat result Solo sailor Tom Dolan has recorded Ireland's best ever result in the iconic Mini Transat race, finishing 6th in the 4,000-mile epic across the Atlantic. Posted on 25 Nov 2017
Mini-Transat La Boulangère Leg 2 day 15
Make way for the young Amidst all the fanfare of the finish, the race continues... Indeed, there have been a succession of arrivals in the port of Le Marin, but for the overwhelming majority of the racers, there are still some days to go. Posted on 15 Nov 2017
Mini-Transat La Boulangère Leg 2 day 13
Vedran Kabalin's boat has dismasted Things are complicated for Vedran Kabalin (Eloa Island of Osinj), who has managed to contact Race Management to alert them to the fact that his boat has dismasted. Posted on 13 Nov 2017
Mini-Transat La Boulangère Leg 2 day 12
A friend indeed Whilst the fleet carves out a route between the latest squalls in what is a very shifty trade wind, each of the skippers has his or her own method of keeping up morale and making the most of this adventure, right the way to the finish. Posted on 12 Nov 2017
Mini-Transat La Boulangère Leg 2 day 11
No lasting armistice out on the ocean... 99 years ago, the armistice of 11 November 1918 heralded the end of the First World War. This Saturday, on this its anniversary on the great Atlantic chessboard, by way of a nod to history. Posted on 11 Nov 2017
Mini-Transat La Boulangère Leg 2 day 10
A storm brewing You could get a sense of it from looking at the competitors' trajectories. The trade wind, never totally steady at the best of times, has been ruffled by stormy squalls, which are causing significant variations in the wind. Posted on 10 Nov 2017
Mini-Transat La Boulangère Leg 2 day 8
A touch of the blues in the big blue These are what the regulars call the crucial days, those where you realise that from here on in there's no way back and that there are no options until you reach Martinique. Posted on 8 Nov 2017
Mini-Transat La Boulangère Leg 2 day 7
Traverse in convoy… or not Virtually in single file, the solo sailors competing in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère are attacking their oceanic crossing on a WNW'ly heading, slightly above the direct course. Posted on 7 Nov 2017