Mini Transat 2011

James Boyd Photography /
79 solo skippers to set sail from La Rochelle
The Charente Maritime-Bahia Transat 6.50 (Mini Transat) sets this sail Sunday from La Rochelle, bound once again for Salvador de Bahia, Brazil with a stopover in Funchal, Madeira. Sadly the race has begun on a sombre note. On Monday morning last week (12 September) the Pogo 2 Karentez VI was found adrift with full sail up 8 miles from the entrance to the Bassin d’Arcachon. There was no one on board. A customs plane from Bordeaux was rerouted to the position of the boat, while a safety helicopter was sent to the area to carry out a search for the skipper, presumed lost overboard. Around an hour later, the body of a man, wearing foulweather gear and a lifejacket with the name of the boat on it, was found by a yachtsman on Lège-Cap-Ferret's beach to the north of the Bassin d’Arcachon. The body was subsequently identified by the Gendarmie was being that of Jean-Marc Allaire, the 34 year-old La Rochelle-based skipper who was to have skippered the boat in this year’s transatlantic race. Exactly what happened is likely to remain a mystery. Allaire is believed to have been returning to La Rochelle from Arcachon where he had been carrying out PR on behalf of his sponsor. At the time the weather was bad. The funeral for Allaire was held last weekend and at the start tomorrow the gun will be fired and all the competitors will wait for an extra minute before they start, as a mark of respect. Thus this year the Charente Maritime-Bahia Transat 6.50 will feature 79 boats, as usual divided between the Proto and Series classes. For those not up on Minis, the Protos are the cool hi-tech one-offs while the Series boats are detuned, production boats (from a run of at least 10) built in glass, but which