A month after its original start date the 2013 Mini Transat finally set sail at 09:45 from a start line off Sada in northwest Spain. Finally after the heinous conditions the fleet has repeatedly experienced over the last weeks, the most delayed race in yacht racing history got underway in sunny conditions with a light northerly to propel the boas out of the Sada estuary after which they were able to hoist kites taking them past the the Tower of Hercules and then La Coruna.
From a 82 strong fleet ready to sail one month ago, there were 73 starters. Missing were Jaanus Tamme (Ropeye) and Elise Bakhoum (Qéramix), who felt that they had already exhausted their emotional reserves and could do no more. The Belgian Sophie de Clercq (Ville de Marseillan) had been undecided about whether she would be able to start the second stage. For the past two days she has been subject to sudden spells of dizziness and has been consulting with medical advisors at Sada Hospital who have not yet been able to identify a specific cause for her condition. In the end, knowing that she could be putting others into danger if she went ahead, Sophie decided, in agreement with the race organisers, Sophie chose to throw in the towel.
At the start, it was Ludovic Méchin (Paris Texas) that made the best job of it in the Protos, while in the Series class Alberto Bona (Onelinesim.it) also got a nose ahead of the rest of the fleet.
As the northerly wind quickly increased by a few knots, the situation changed rapidly and it wasn't long before the big guns were making their way towards the front of the fleets. By the entrance to the bay, it was Gwénolé Gahinet (Watever/Logways) who led the fleet, followed by Nicolas Boidevezi (Nature Addicts) and Louis Segre (Roll My Chicken). Among the Series class, Yannick Le Clech (Diaoulic 692) was ahead of Ian Lipinski (Pas de futur sans Numérique). For Yannick it was a nice nod to his Bay of Morlaix friend Damien Cloarec, who was forced to abandon the race due to a persistent tendinitis.
Little by little the wind built and Nicolas Boidevezi rounded Cape Finisterre at 16.00 with a comfortable lead over his rivals, having already gained a buffer of eight miles over the main pack led by Benoît Marie (benoitmarie.com) and Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian), the speeds of the leading group regularly hitting 17 to 18 knots.
Jonas Gerkens (Netwerk 2) on his Pogo was mixing it up with the Proto fleet at an average speed of more than 12 knots. The other leaders, in descending order, obviously opted for caution with Bertrand Delesne (TeamWork Proto) ahead of Gwénolé Gahinet .
Obviously, putting the boats through such tough conditions has an impact on equipment. Some competitors have already reported damage. Annabelle Boudinot (Agro 650) broke her bowsprit, but has a spare sprit on board and should be able to fix it quickly. Axel Tréhin (Ty Startigenn) has suffered the same and will try to jury rig with equipment he has on board to avoid making a pitstop. However, Joel Miro Garcia (Dame Argo) has headed into the port of Camarinas after informing a support boat that he has broken one of his two rudders.
Between the Sisargas Islands, west of La Coruna and the southern tip of Cape Finisterre, the coast has earned the nickname of 'The Coast Of Death'. It is understandable that some have chosen to push their boats hard to put this rugged landscape, well and truly behind them.
Sched at 15.00 (UTC)
1 Nicolas Boidevezi (Nature Addicts) 3615.8 miles to finish
2 Benoît Marie (benoitmarie.com) + 8.5 milles from leader
3 Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian) +10.5 miles
4 Bertrand Delesne (TeamWork Proto) +11.8 miles
5 Ludovic Méchin (Paris Texas) +12.6 miles
1 Jonas Gerkens (Netwerk 2) 3628.6 miles to finish
2 Joël Miro Garcia (Dame Argo) +1.2 miles from leader
3 Simon Koster (Go 4 it) +1.5 miles
4 Jean-Loup Chenard (jlchenard.com) +1.8 miles
5 Alberto Bona (Onelinesim.it) +2.5 miles