Direct to Guadeloupe
They're off! After reviewing all the options open to them, the organisers of the Mini Transat , in consultation with the competitors, have finally decided that their race will be run in a single leg, from Sada to Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe, with the start now scheduled for 12 November.
Despite being some way off, it breaks the feeling of uncertainty that had began to weigh on everyone's minds. Once again the new organisers of the Mini Transat have chosen an original solution : to go directly to Pointe a Pitre, removing the stopover in Lanzarote.
This choice responds to several constraints over the delivery of the bulk of the fleet from Sada to Gijón: it is a trip of more than 160 miles, or 24 to 36 hours, in conditions that may not necessarily be very easy with the prevailing westerly winds, residual high waves, and coastal navigation all requiring vigilance. In the first of the briefings in Gijon, the competitors requested that a stop of at least 48 hours be observed after the arrival of the last competitor in the Galician port. In adding this new delay the time available for the turnaround time in Lanzarote is compromised, which has the knock-on effect of also compromising the arrival date in Guadeloupe.
The choice of sailing the direct route to the Caribbean can make up for some of the delay caused by the bad weather. However, while they won't stop there, the fleet will race through a gate near Lanzarote that will establish an intermediate classification before crossing the Atlantic. In addition, competitors who wish to will still be able to make an express pitstop at Puerto Calero if they need to effect repairs before setting out on the Atlantic crossing. Finally, although this leg with be the longest distance in the history of the Mini Transat (about 3,600 miles as opposed to 3,100 for Madeira to Salvador de Bahia), it could well be shorter in time, because it avoids crossing through the Doldrums. The arrival of the first boats could be sometime around 1 December.
Originally, the Race Director wanted to be able to start today, 11 November. But there are a number of logistical issues to resolve. Firstly, many competitors had sent equipment to Lanzarote in anticipation of the stopover there and it is necessary to repatriate that equpment to Sada.
Computers, stores and especially freeze-dried food, clothing suitable for sailing in the tropics, all these need to be returned quickly to the Galician port. Logistics are being put in place to achieve this, but to ensure that everyone can recover their equipment, the start has been put off until 12 November.
As of this afternoon, some Mini sailors will set sail for Sada. Others have decided to wait until tomorrow when the wind should begin to drop. Within days, the entire Mini family will be reunited, ready to take a historic step.