All in the Same Boat

16 11

19:15

It’s a tradition among the finishers in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère. Having barely set foot on the pontoon, the newcomer is treated to an impromptu dunking in the waters of the cove of Le Marin, helped along by their predecessors of course. And when the winner turns up, there are always a few former Mini sailors to carry on the tradition.

Ultimately, this forced dunking is perhaps a symbol of a class in which there aren’t really any untouchable stars where, whatever your ranking, everyone is on a par with everyone else. As such, perhaps it’s no coincidence that it attracts so many overseas sailors, despite the fact that singlehanded racing struggles to break out of metropolitan France, that so many women take up the gauntlet of this adventure and that youngsters make a successful start to their careers here.

The privilege of youth

You’re not responsible when you’re seventeen years old. You’re barely any more responsible when you’re bordering on twenty are you? That said, the two youngsters of the race, Keni Piperol (Région Guadeloupe) in the prototype category and Erwan Le Draoulec (Emile Henry) in the production boat category, were able to concoct the perfect winning cocktail from a mixture of recklessness and prudence. The former skipper, who made Martinique in fifth place as top rookie, demonstrated amazing maturity. The second pushed his machine like never before, pushing his limits and that of his boat to utterly dominate the fleet with a lead of around a hundred miles over his pursuers; a whole gulf on the one-design circuit.

Make way for the female contingent

To my mind, there is no difference between women and men, there are only sailors…” This remark from Denis Hugues, Race Director of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère, perfectly sums up the spirit that reigns within the Mini Class. Here, the musclemen aren’t necessarily established and men and women compete on an equal footing. Just take a look at the ranking for evidence of this, with a magnificent second place in the overall ranking going to Clarisse Crémer (TBS) and a stellar performance posted by Camille Taque (Foxsea Lady), who is set to finish the leg in seventh position among the prototypes, and key players among the older generation production boats like the Pogo 2, such as Estelle Greck (Starfish) and Nolwen Cazé (Fée Rêvée).

An international contingent with no limits

Finally, how can one fail to notice the intrinsically international flavour of the Mini-Transat la Boulangère? In the prototype category, behind Ian Lipinski, we find a veritable melting pot of different cultures; one German, one Swiss, and one Italian sailor. And they’re not here just to make up the numbers; they’re posting impressive results that testify to the growing infatuation for the Mini-Transat in other European countries and sometimes well beyond the borders of the Old World. The production boats aren’t about to be outdone either, since Irish sailor Tom Dolan is likely to make the top 5 in the overall ranking.

Attracting international and female sailors, open to young and old alike, to amateurs and neo-professionals… It is no surprise that the race has always maintained its popularity. With the celebration of every one of the finishers, the Mini-Transat La Boulangère will continue to come alive to the rhythm of the umpteenth dunking… One thing for sure is the fact that the Mini isn’t about to sink any time soon.