The low-down on the prototype and production podium for leg 2!

17 11

03:45

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Though the vast majority of competitors are still at sea after two weeks of racing (69 sailors), the second leg of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère has delivered its verdict with regards to the respective podiums. In the prototype category, François Jambou took the win with a sizeable lead over one of his main rivals, Axel Tréhin (2nd), and the amazing German sailor Morten Bogacki (3rd). In the production boat category, it’s Italian Ambrogio Beccaria who utterly dominated the course from start to finish between Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Le Marin. Nicolas d’Estais and Benjamin Ferré completed the podium after an intense battle. 

Prototypes: Jambou and Tréhin confirm, Bogacki asserts himself

After 12 days, 02 hours, 27 minutes and 07 seconds of racing, François Jambou (865) took the win in the prototype category in Le Marin. Aboard a boat that is the reigning champion of the race, François posted a truly masterful performance in this his second participation in the event (he finished 36th in the production boat category in 2015). The 35-year-old sailor managed to find a very good compromise between going on the attack and preserving his gear. “I was in a mode where it was important not to break the boat. I had my foot on the brake at the start. Maybe the others wanted to go too hard too soon and broke”, he says. “For my part, I was really at average speed mode. There were lots of times where I could have pushed the boat harder, but as soon as it started slamming, as soon as there was a strange noise on the boat, I calmed things down a bit, whilst keeping a good eye on the ranking. I didn’t feel like larking around; it’s not in my nature.”

A little less than 13 hours after François Jambou, Axel Tréhin (945) secured 2nd place in Le Marin. Winner of the first leg between La Rochelle and Las Palmas, Axel lost some ground in relation to François, notably as a result of losing his medium spinnaker. “We have four headsails and I could clearly have done with this particular spinnaker, even though I did manage to repair it in the end”, he explains. “That’s the name of the game. Everyone has their share of misfortunes. I don’t have much to complain about though because I’m here in Le Marin, in 2nd place. I wanted to do better than in 2015 (4th place in the prototype category) and it’s a done deal. I’m really happy for François who sailed an excellent race.”

Next comes one of the wonderful surprises of this second leg. After a frustrating 11th place in the first leg, German sailor Morten Bogacki (934) bounced right back into contention in the second to finish with a superb 3rd place ahead of some major players like Erwan Le Méné (800) and Tanguy Bouroullec (969). Morten managed to fully exploit the potential of his prototype, a boat on which fellow German, Jörg Riechers, finished 2nd in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère 2017. “I’m surprised to have finished ahead of Erwan and Tanguy. The duration of my preparation was very short with practically no sailing this year so I’m very happy with the result. The first leg was complicated. I had to pick myself up and forge ahead. I resolved the autopilot issues I had. I suffered other minor damage in the second leg, primarily due to strong winds and also maybe because I pushed the boat a little too hard at times.

Production boats: Beccaria dominates proceedings, Estais and Ferré battle to the wire

13 days, 01 hour, 58 minutes and 48 seconds: this is the time required by Ambrogio Beccaria to complete the course between the Canaries and Martinique, and secure a stellar victory in the production boat category. “I feel very emotional. I’ve been working towards this for the past five years. That’s it now, I’ve done it! I haven’t got a true grasp of what’s happened yet, it’s really a dream come true. I was leading the whole time, but out on the water it wasn’t easy”, reveals the Italian sailor. “I got into a rhythm. I attacked hard and the boat was incredible in the breeze; she’s a plane! The first week was very intense. I didn’t think we’d be able to push so hard! I said to myself that we really were a group of nutcases to enjoy hurting ourselves to this extent. In fact, it’s a mixture of pain and pleasure.” Ambrogio managed to keep up with the very best prototypes and in fact he received some very fine tributes from François Jambou and Axel Tréhin, the only two rivals to have finished ahead of him in the overall ranking for both categories. “I think Ambrogio is the best sailor I’ve ever seen!”, effuses François Jambou. “He’s impressive. Jostling for first place with the production boats as if they were the top prototypes, that was the most striking fact of the race. I was completely amazed.

At the end of a very intense battle, ultimately it was Nicolas d’Estais (905) who bagged 2nd place in Le Marin after finishing 4th in the first leg. This second spot had been highly coveted and Nicolas had to fight relentlessly to secure it. “Places like this are only possible if you give your all”, he confirms. “It’s a drag race essentially. You have to keep things very simple tactically, Mental strength is very important too. Hanging on in there for 15 days on a Mini 6.50 really isn’t easy.” His performance is all the more outstanding since Nicolas d’Estais reconciled his Mini project and his very busy professional life in Paris. “There’s a great deal of pride involved. I’m very happy to secure such a good place as an ‘amateur’, only training at weekends. My head’s really in the clouds.” 

Benjamin Ferré (902) completed the podium in Martinique on his first participation in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère, having previously completed an Atlantic crossing with friends in 2015 with no GPS, using a sextant and being self-sufficient in terms of energy. After an 11th place in the first leg, Benjamin will likely shoot up the leader board in the overall ranking. On his arrival dockside, he was the happiest man in the world: “It’s incredible… I don’t have the words to describe it frankly. Inevitably I dreamt of a third place, but I’d have never believed it was possible. I really gave my all. I swear that at every point, each time the alarm went off, that it was necessary to make a sail change, put in a reef or helm, I did so. I was so determined to feel what I felt on crossing the line that I never let up.