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Leg one Mini Transat debriefing, Dragons and J/80 North Americans

by David Schmidt 15 Oct 2019 16:00 BST October 15, 2019
2019 Mini-Transat La Boulangère © Christophe Breschi

While the sailing world is aglow with news, images and videos of the new AC75 class yachts, four of which have now been launched, the 1,350 nautical mile Mini-Transat La Boulangère race, which is contested aboard far smaller and significantly more humble vessels, is also unfurling, giving fans of offshore sailing reason to constantly refresh their web browsers. This two-stage offshore event saw a fleet of 87 solo sailors depart from La Rochelle, France, on Saturday, October 5, with the bows of their production and prototype Classe Mini sailboats (read: two classes) aimed for Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

As mentioned, the Mini-Transat La Boulangère race features racing in both the prototype and production classes, with the former serving as a development platform for the class and for high-performance monohulls in general. After eight days, 17 hours and 58 minutes, 31-year-old skipper Axel Tréhin (FRA), sailing aboard Project Rescue Ocean, crossed the finishing line of leg one in first place in the prototype class.

"This first leg really had it all," said Tréhin in an official press release. "There was breeze, less breeze, some upwind, some downwind and a bit of reaching.... There were moments where strategy was called for and others where pure speed was the order of the day. It was really interesting."

Tréhin was joined by skippers François Jambou (FRA) and Tanguy Bouroullec (FRA) on the prototype class' leaderboard.

Meanwhile, 27-year-old skipper Ambrogio Beccaria (ITL), sailing aboard his Pogo 3 Classe Mini Geomag, took line honors in the production class with a time of 8 days, 19 hours and 52 minutes. Skipper Félix De Navacelle (FRA) took second place, while Matthieu Vincent (FRA) took third place.

"I am so happy!" reported Beccaria in an official regatta press release. "I didn't think I was in the lead... I thought everyone was positioned to the West and with the breeze kicking back in from the South-West, I believed I'd lost it all, especially as I knew that Félix [De Navacelle] was very close. As such, I stopped myself sleeping and eating for at least 15 hours in a bid to sail as quickly as possible and not have any regrets."

Also in Europe, the venerable Dragon class enjoyed their 90th Anniversary Regatta on the Mediterranean waters off of Italy's beautiful Yacht Club Sanremo. Racing took place in modern and classic Dragons (the latter being built prior to 1972), with an impressive 150 teams on the starting line of this high-level event. Jens Christensen, Anders Bagger and Thomas Schmidt earned the championship title, while Ivan Bradbury, Malte Phillip and Claus Oelsen earned top standing amongst the classic Dragons.

"This has been an extraordinary event, to see first of all so many Dragons all together and also to have that big race where we were all on the start line together," said America's Cup veteran Peter Gilmour, who finished the 90th anniversary regatta in fourth place. It's been a difficult week to get all the racing in, but we have a winner and that's exciting. I'll never forget in 2001 when they held the anniversary event for the America's Cup Jubilee in Cowes, and this is just as significant."

And finally, much closer to home, the J/80 North Americans unfurled last weekend on the waters of New Hampshire's Lake Winnipesaukee in unseasonably light winds that saw skipper Henry Tomlinson's Aegir (USA 487) team take top honors. Aegir was joined on the winner's podium by Bill and Shannon Lockwood's Shenanigans (USA 1004) and Lek Dimarucot's USA 175 (USA 85).

Sail-World tips our hat to all of these great sailors, and we wish the sailors competing in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère safe passage as they prepare for the second and final leg of their transoceanic voyage, which will take the fleet from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Martinique's bay of Le Marin.

May the four winds blow you safely home.

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

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