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Muzzolini, Bouroullec or Le Roy?

This Monday, at around 06:00 UTC, the first prototypes in the 23rd Mini Transat EuroChef passed the compulsory virtual gate, which was put in place shortly before the start in case the situation on the island of La Palma regarding the Cumbre Vieja volcano, which erupted on 19 September, deteriorated any further. The passage of this line located 80 miles to the north of the Canaries archipelago, not far from the Selvagens Islands, has caused leaders Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Tollec MP/Pogo), Pierre Le Roy (1019 – TeamWork) and Fabio Muzzolini (945 – Tartine sans Beurre) to squash up together again. The latter even moved up to the head of the fleet this morning. As such, it promises to be a thrilling match right the way to the finish line, which the competitors are expected to cross between 17:00 and 19:00 hours UTC!

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Though Tanguy Bouroullec and Pierre Le Roy have been regularly trading places for a turn at the top spot since the start of this first leg, on 27 September, their race has never just been about a duel. Indeed, Fabio Muzzolini, positioned around fifty miles shy of the two leaders at midday yesterday, has managed to get right back in contention in the past 24 hours. Better still, he treated himself to the luxury of crossing the famous virtual gate in first place with a 30-minute lead over his closest rival. Positioned 45 miles to the east of Tollec MP/Pogo then 60 miles across from TeamWork, his separation gave him a better closing angle and more pressure than these rivals. This is evidenced by the fact that he managed to maintain a double-digit average speed throughout the night, whilst his two rivals were making headway at between 7 and 9 knots. More interesting still, unlike the skipper from Lilles on TeamWork, who has racked up some serious losses in the past few hours, the Franco-Italian didn’t have to put in a gybe. In this way, Le Roy has now been relegated to third place some 15 miles behind the leader, after boasting a 45-mile lead for a while following a cool tactical move at Cape Finisterre. The question on everyone’s lips now is who will snatch victory in this first act in Santa Cruz? To find out, we’ll likely have to wait until this evening. In the meantime, the suspense is weighing heavily!

A wind flavoured with ‘gruyère’ for the bulk of the peloton

Among the rest of the prototypes and the production boats, the match continues apace of course. Russian Irina Gracheva (800 – Path) is expected to make landfall overnight tonight or at first light in the Canaries. In this way, she remains right on track to satisfy her goal of finishing in the Top 5 in Guadeloupe, at the end of leg two. This will naturally be considerably more complicated for all the others, who are making headway this Monday over 700 miles shy of the head of the fleet. Furthermore, they’ll likely be slower than the leaders over this section of the course between Portugal and La Palma through the lack of well-established trade wind. Besides German Melwin Fink (920 – SignForCom) and Swiss sailor Christian Kargl (980 – All Hands on Deck), the two leaders in the production boat category, who are powering down towards the Canaries at a cracking pace, the others will have to contend with a fairly shifty wind throughout the day, causing them to make uneven progress, as is already the case. The reason for this is the passage of a ridge of high pressure, which translates as rather random breeze offshore of Portugal. The speeds of the Mini sailors in this area are oscillating between 5 and 11 knots right now, with the boats positioned further offshore having a clear edge. Indeed, the latter group have a little more pressure than their closest rivals inshore, the peloton sprawled across nearly 90 miles laterally.

News of Georges Kick

Georges Kick, the most senior member of the fleet whose boat ended up running aground on the coast overnight on Saturday, at the entrance to the port of Ribadeo, as a very active front rolled through with gusts of 50 knots, has indicated to Race Management that he intends to have his boat hauled out and then towed to La Rochelle by road.

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