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Musto 2017 728x90 Surefooted

Breathless Atlantic in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère

by Aurélie Bargat 6 Oct 2017 20:11 BST 6 October 2017

In cruising terms, conditions could best be described as relaxing: sunny climes, seas becoming increasingly calm, light to moderate breeze, perfect conditions for idling about. However, the distinctive feature of offshore racers is that they always want to go faster... at the risk of sacrificing some of the fun element.

Out on the water, Ian Lipinski (Griffon.fr) is continuing to resist the attacks from those in hot pursuit. Indeed, despite conditions which don't really favour his type of hull, he's managing to hold onto the advantage he has so masterfully racked up over his direct rivals in what is a true sign of the strength of this firm favourite in this 2017 edition. In the space of two years, Ian has learnt to be completely at one with his machine, erasing any weaknesses along the way. All that's left are assets, which he knows just how to make the most of the moment conditions allow. It is no insult to Jörg Riechers (Lilienthal) to make the observation that his prototype still has some room for improvement, after all it is just three months since she was launched. However, we can certainly count on the German sailor to progress in leaps and bounds.

In the production boat category, Clarisse Crémer (TBS) is reminding one and all that she is a force to be reckoned with and like Tanguy Bouroullec (Kerhis Cerfrance) she is right on the pace of the race. The option to the west has paid off and now it will be important to contain the horde of pursuers. From Erwan Le Draoulec (Emile Henry) to the Swiss sailor Valentin Gauthier (Shaman- Banque du Léman) and to Rémi Aubrun (Alternative Sailing – Constructions du Belon), everyone is very much in contention for victory. In these light airs, we'll also have to reckon on a possible comeback by the Pogo 2s. One thing for sure: they'll have to be patient, not let down their guard, constantly monitor the trim and be able to take the helm whenever the autopilot isn't performing on point... The light airs can become exhausting at times.

A whole team has landed on the pontoons in La Coruña to come and assist Julien Mizrachi (UNAPEI) and Fred Guérin (Les-amis.fun). A fully equipped mast is on the menu for the former, transported via a trailer on the back of a lorry, along with lamination material and a few seasoned specialists. Yes indeed, the Mini solidarity has pulled it out of the bag once again. Meantime Fred Guérin knows that he'll be outside the time limit to officially head back onto the racetrack, but his holy grail lies elsewhere. At 62 years of age, he has a fourth Mini-Transat to complete and it's out of the question not to get back out there. He may not be able to be ranked, but we can bet that his arrival will be celebrated just as warmly as all the others, if not better. The Mini-Transat relishes a great story...

Prototypes top five places at 15:00 UTC:

1 Ian Lipinski – Griffon.fr – 51.2 miles to the finish
2 Arthur Léopold-Léger – Antal XPO – 12.8 miles behind the leader
3 Romain Bolzinger – Spicee.com sa – 42.8 miles behind the leader
4 Simon Koster –Eight Cube Ser- 56.6 miles behind the leader
5 Aurélien Poisson – TeamWork – 69.4 miles behind the leader

Production boats top five places at 15:00 UTC:

1 Clarisse Crémer – TBS 589.8 miles to the finish
2 Tanguy Bouroullec – CERFRANCE - Kerhis – 1.8 miles behind the leader
3 Erwan Le Draoulec – Emile Henry – 3.9 miles behind the leader
4 Valentin Gautier – Shaman – Banque du Léman – 12.7 miles behind the leader
5 Rémi Aubrun – Alternative Sailing – Constructions du Belon - 13.8 miles behind the leader

www.minitransat.fr/en

Update from Tom Dolan

Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan is continuing an impressive ascent up the Mini Transat leaderboard at the halfway point of the prestigious solo transatlantic race.

The 30-year-old from Kells, County Meath, is today up to 12th place in the 56-strong série division for production boats, and just 53 miles behind leader Tanguy Bouroullec, after five days and more than 660 nautical miles of intense racing.

It comes after a tough start to the first leg of the race, a 1,350 nautical mile stage from La Rochelle in France to Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, which saw Dolan relegated to the back of the fleet after he missed a course mark in the opening hours.

Dolan bounced back, clawing his way up the leaderboard as the fleet approached and then rounded Cape Finisterre on the north-western tip of Spain.

He now has around 650 nautical miles, as the crow flies, lying between his 21ft racing yacht Offshoresailing.fr and the finish line of Leg 1 in which to further improve his position, but progress is slow.

The north-easterly winds the sailors find themselves in as they pass east of the Azores High are currently less than ten knots, and the latest weather routing models suggest an arrival in Gran Canaria no earlier than October 10.

Dolan, nicknamed L'Irlandais Volant - the Flying Irishman - by the French press, is currently positioning himself to the west of his rivals where forecasts show a few knots of breeze may lie.

The first leg will be followed by a longer 2,700 nautical mile stage across the Atlantic to Le Marin in Martinique, lasting around two weeks.

Dolan is aiming to become the first Irish sailor ever to make the podium of the Mini Transat, a feat that's well within his capabilities as he's proved this season with a string of top-three places in the Mini 6.50 class.

In the last edition of the race in 2015 Dolan finished a respectable 22nd in what was his Mini Transat debut.

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