Headbanging for Minis

Force 7 winds experienced by those in the west

Thursday September 27th 2001, Author: Leo Voorneveld, Location: Transoceanic

Just 10 hours after their stop in Spain for repairs, Paul Peggs and Ronan Guerin had new masts fitted on their boats. Their respective shore teams worked like crazy to get the sailors ready again to rejoin the first leg of the Mini Transat down to Lanzarote.

Paul Peggs restarted yesterday evening (Wed) and Guerin this morning at 0230. Pascal Hannequin ( 33 ) and Benoît Parnaudeau ( 260 ) are still in La Rochelle where the first one returned with a broken boom and the second sailor came in yesterday with a broken mast. The fifth competitor, Bruno Ginocchi ( 109 ), is still in Les Sable d'Olonne.

It is interesting to note all those who have had to stop are Protos. In 1999 a few of the series designs had mast problems, but they seem to have been resolved. But you can bet that the series designs have had their share of problems too.

One of the most recent casualties is race veteran Jean-Marie Vidal who has eletrical problems and is en route to Bayone in west Spain to sort them out.

The position of the leaders this morning is due west of Porto, Portugal. The Volvo 60s are close by and passed the fleet today. They seem to be around 50% faster than the 21ft Minis. The latter are doing 4-6 knots, while the former are cranked up to 9-11 knots. But both fleets have the wind on the nose.

The Mini fleet is widely spread out now. The furthest west is designer David Raison on 232, while most east is Karin Leibovici on the previous winner 198, lying 30 miles off the Portugese coast. The spread is 130 miles east to west and 170 miles north to south and this of course doesn’t include the restarters.

The boats to north and west have the strongest conditions - between force 4 and 7 - while to the south they have force 4-6. So it looks like going too far west has no advantage. Only time will tell.

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