Published on 27 September 2021
The first leg of the Mini Transat EuroChef was launched this Monday 27 September at 15:30 hours local time in France. Propelled along by a NW’ly breeze of between 16 and 20 knots, the 90 competitors set sail from Les Sables d’Olonne bound for Santa Cruz de La Palma, with a total of 1,350 miles to negotiate and almost as many obstacles to overcome. Those which will punctuate their passage across the Bay of Biscay specifically are forecast to be relatively complicated and might well have a decisive impact on the next stage of the race. As a result, to hook up with the leading group, the sailors will need to quickly find their sea legs and get into the right groove and, most of all, they’ll have to be nicely in phase with the elements so as to avoid amassing a deficit before the passage around Cape Finisterre. This same headland is where the front runners have a chance of linking onto a big downwind schuss, while their pursuers may well have to deal with rather more uncertain conditions.
Quotes from the Boats
Gauthier Verdon (879 – TGS France): “I feel a mixture of excitement and apprehension. I’m very happy to be setting sail because for my part it’s the culmination of two years’ preparation. I think this leg will be an interesting way to get into the transatlantic mindset. The first leg equates to ten days’ navigation. That much I know. However, I’m not familiar with the Canaries. I’m going to be careful not to break anything and to sail a clean course”.
Lucas Valenza-Troubat (606 – Six Saucisses): “I’m a bit tense. That’s in my nature but I’m doing the best I can. I know things will feel better a couple of hours after the start, once I’ve got into the swing of the race. The different routing options aren’t very in line with one another with regards to the timing of the two fronts rolling through. Everything will be shaped by the first few nights. I’m going to try to sail a clean race, have some fun and avoid breaking anything to make the finish in the Canaries”.
Arno Biston (551 – Bahia Express): “I’m so looking forward to heading off, but at the same time I have mixed feelings about the start. It’s going to be nice for our nearest and dearest, but on the other side of that, I’m eager to be off Portugal already. I have a pretty good handle on the first leg. I think it’s going to be nice. It’s boat-breaking, because there are short seas, but that shouldn’t last too long. We’ll be close-hauled so there’s little chance of us making mistakes if the boat is well prepared. I’m not overly scared by it”.
Antoine Bos (825 – Rhino): “I’m tense but also focused and confident. I’m ready, the boat’s ready, there’s nothing more to do. I got some rest yesterday. We had a weather briefing and then I prepared my salads for the first two days. I’m trying not to think too much about how things are going to play out after that, otherwise I’ll get myself tied up in knots. I’m beginning to flip out, telling myself that it’s going to be this way or that. We’ll set sail, spend the first night at sea and then we’ll see where we stand. If we can slip along nicely from Cape Finisterre as far as the Canaries, I’ll have some of that!”
Romain Bigot (802 – Impulso): “I’m a bit stressed out. The first weather briefing was a bit of a reality check. There are still some elements which are a bit vague, but all in all, we have a rough idea of how things will start off so that’s fairly reassuring. Start day is always emotional. It’s a big adrenalin rush. Despite the delay, I still have a few mates, my parents and my youngest sister who have stayed on here. It’s going to be boisterous at the very start and then conditions are set to abate. It’s a fairly good thing to have it this way round given that you’re in the best shape after the start. It will enable us to find our sea legs for the second or third night when we’ll have meatier conditions. I’m not too frightened by it. I don’t really have a precise objective, it’s more about finding my bearings on the boat. It’s my first transatlantic passage so we’re not going to go out all guns blazing. What really counts is making it to the Canaries”.
Colombine Blondet (759 – DareWomen): “I really don’t like being close-hauled in 30 knots. It’s really not my bag at all, but it’ll be alright. Things should calm down after Cape Finisterre, which is bound to make the situation more pleasant. My aim is to make the finish in the Canaries and above all to make it to Guadeloupe without breaking everything”.
Nicolas Cousi (533 – Telerys Communication): “I feel a bit stressed, even though I’m relatively confident about the way the boat’s been prepared. We know what we’re getting in terms of the weather. It’s down to me not to do anything stupid and to set off as fast as possible so I don’t get left behind by my other little playmates. My objective is to avoid falling off the pace because the weather is a little uncertain and it’ll be important not to miss the metaphorical boat. I really love these types of conditions as the sailor can’t really make a big difference, which means you can eat and sleep more easily”.