Amidst all the fanfare of the finish, the race continues… Indeed, there have been a succession of arrivals in the port of Le Marin, but for the overwhelming majority of the racers, there are still some days to go before they reach their holy grail and the celebratory rum punch of the finish, synonymous with being part of the clan of sailors who’ve done the Mini.
In a few hours’ time, the Mini-Transat La Boulangère pontoon will have accommodated five prototypes and the first of the production boats. Following on from Ian Lipinski (Griffon.fr), Jörg Riechers (Lilienthal), Simon Koster (Eight Cube Sersa) and Andrea Fornaro (Sideral), Martinique is now preparing to welcome Keni Piperol (Région Guadeloupe), the darling of the Antilles arc and, almost at the same time, Erwan Le Draoulec (Emile Henry), who is about to become the youngest ever winner of the Mini-Transat.
Production boats: all to play for in the race for the podium
There are currently four boats within a 20-mile radius astern of Erwan Le Draoulec. Though Clarisse Crémer (TBS) is managing to hold onto her second place, hot on her heels is Tanguy Bouroullec (Kerhis Cerfrance) who, should he fail in his bid to secure second place in the overall ranking, may still make the podium if he manages to make up his 2h15mn deficit in relation to Benoît Sineau (Cachaça II). Suffice to say that the last few miles are likely to be extremely tense and the slightest error may well prove very costly. Clarisse Crémer, who appeared to be slightly below par for some days, now seems to have the bit between the teeth again since the fleet bunched up again. That said, in an easing breeze which is gradually veering as it shifts a little further south, the slightest separation may well increase in scale to the detriment or the delight of the others. In principle, this latest wind shift looks set to favour those furthest north, who might well benefit from a better angle to make the channel between Martinique and Sainte-Lucie.
Arrangements among friends
As the chasing pack homes in on the finish, further back in the fleet there are the rumblings of the solidarity observed since the Cape Verde islands. Several competitors have opted to hunt down performance as a pack, agreeing on which strategy to adopt and following through on it. Some have been forced to find a dodge when technology lets them down. In this way, Melchior Treillet (Boulègue) and Julien Mizrachi (UNAPEI) have got into the habit of consulting each other on which route to follow, because sailing in convoy is far more reassuring and sociable. Unfortunately, the microphone on Julien’s microphone has given up the ghost. Too bad. Melchior will simply put forward some strategic options and Julien will reply yes or no by hitting his VHF button once or twice respectively. Did you understand me R2D2?