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Marc Chopin: “Stopover in La Palma maintained for now”

For several days, the Cumbre Veija volcano, on the island of La Palma, has been in the eruptive phase. The organisers of the Mini Transat EuroChef are naturally in daily contact with the local authorities and experts involved in the Pevolcan (Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan). Right now, the situation is adhering to the classic phases, which means that the stopover in Santa Cruz de La Palma can go ahead as planned. We get the low-down from Marc Chopin, Event Organiser.

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What’s the current situation in La Palma?

“According to the experts, the island is not facing a more explosive phenomenon than usual in the Canary Islands. However, we are in constant contact with the local authorities and the vulcanologists in attendance on site there. The cone has just collapsed, but this is standard with this type of eruption. The specialists are being reassuring. The north-west coast of the island, which is where the Marina is located that will accommodate the Mini Transat EuroChef, is not at any risk in their view.”

 

So, no change of date, but one might imagine that you have some plan Bs in the event that the situation deteriorates?

“Absolutely. Today, the destination of the race is La Palma as planned, but a virtual gateway positioned 80 miles (around 150 km) to the north of the Canaries archipelago, not far from the Selvagens Islands, has been added to the course. Without any news from Race Management, skippers approaching this area will continue their course towards the finish line in La Palma. In the event that the situation deteriorates, they will be alerted to the backup plan. We have three channels to inform them of a change: trackers via which Race Management can send them a message, support boats capable of relaying the message to them via VHF, as well as the SSB used for the daily weather report. The plan was clearly explained to them during the briefing this Sunday morning.”

 

What’s the backup plan envisaged today?

“We have several. We’re still in the process of working with the local authorities in the Canaries on this topic, but everything will be finalised by the end of the weekend. Repositioning nearly 100 boats isn’t that simple. Several ports and even several islands are a possibility.”

 

In the event that another host port is ultimately decided on, where and how will the finish of this first leg be decided?

“If ever we cannot get as far as La Palma, which is pretty unlikely, the finish will be decided as the skippers pass the virtual gateway. Our system of trackers enables us to have very accurate positions for the boats. By refreshing these every minute in the zone in question, via extrapolation, we’ll be able to calculate the exact passage time of each of the competitors. These times will be used to draw up the ranking and, of course, validate this first leg.”

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